Division of Science

Division of Science Statement on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

As scientists, we use a combination of theoretical and experimental approaches to understand and predict the workings of the natural world. As educators, we empower students to use the scientific method, which includes experimentation, computation, critical thinking, and mathematical reasoning, to solve practical problems of many different kinds. As a community, we value the use of the scientific method for the betterment of lives and the function of society.

To that end, it is imperative that people in diverse parts of society are able to use science to improve their lives, to identify new problems to which scientific approaches can be applied, and to use their life experiences to envision new ways in which science can be practiced.

Therefore, the Brandeis Division of Science is committed to creating and nurturing a diverse community of scholars that is equitable and inclusive. As scientists, we pride ourselves on solving problems, including ones that lead to paradigm shifts. A challenge that we have grappled with is how to create an environment that is inclusive and accessible to all that seek to enter the sciences and experience the invigorating practice of science.  

We are renewing our commitment to push towards these objectives by (i) creating a task force to analyze and propose ways to restructure STEM education at Brandeis, working with educators and building on our experiences with programs such as the Brandeis Science Posse and the Galaxy programs, (ii) initiating a tradition in Spring 2021 of periodically holding a division-wide town-hall where we discuss our challenges and evaluate progress towards our goals, and (iii) continuing our efforts to increase diversity in our faculty, students and staff through all mechanisms available to us.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Activities

The Division of Science will use multiple activities to accomplish our DEI objectives. The following is a list of activities that we are currently engaged in:

  • Each department in the division has formed a DEI committee that is inclusive of students, faculty and staff.
  • The task force on diversifying the undergraduate curriculum has submitted a report to the dean of arts and sciences. The report advocates for changes in curriculum and additional resources available to STEM majors. The division is currently in discussion with the deans office about implementation. The report is being shared, and questions or comments should be addressed to divsci@brandeis.edu
  • A special seminar featuring Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, PhD was offered Oct. 19. Dr. Prescod-Weinstein delivered a talk titled "Black Feminism in Space." She is among the fewer than 100 Black American women to earn a PhD from a department of physics and is the author of "The Disordered Cosmo."
  • The division is engaged in a process to create and communicate a set of shared norms and guiding principles for climate and culture in research labs, starting with graduate students and postdocs.
  • The Division of Science antiracism plan is available.
  • As always, diversifying our faculty and staff is a prime focus and we are engaging multiple strategies on this front.

Additionally, Brandeis MRSEC has been engaged in the following DEI activities:

  • Science Talks featuring diverse Brandeis scientists at Waltham High School to promote the recruitment of URM students to science and Brandeis University.
  • Every month the MRSEC hosts a talk for WHS students where Brandeis researchers explain their science and describe their path to Brandeis and research.
  • To identify a diverse group of speakers that WHS students can feel represented by, the MRSEC works with a student group, Diverse Brandeis Scholars.
  • Prior to WHS Science Talks, speakers receive training by the Brandeis SciComm Lab on presenting to non-scientific audiences and on how to be an encouraging role model.
  • In 2021, we had one Spanish-language talk that was distributed to courses for English-language Learners at Waltham High School.

Virtual field trips with Spanish-language experiments and mentoring with Waltham High School.

  • On March 25 and April 1, 2021, Dr. Grace Han hosted virtual field trips for Waltham High School SEI Chemistry courses, which are limited to students who are English Language Learners. These field trips will be offered in-person for the 2021-22 academic year.
  • During the virtual field trip, WHS students watched videos of chemical reactions that have been translated into Spanish then WHS students joined small groups with Brandeis science undergraduate and graduate students who are native Spanish speakers to discuss their research projects and pursuing science degrees at Brandeis University.

The Brandeis MRSEC has a longstanding relationship with Hampton University, an HBCU in Virginia. Through this partnership, the MRSEC aims to support postdoctoral fellows at Hampton by identifying research avenues for collaboration.

  • MRSEC's partnership with Hampton University provides support for postdoctoral fellows and undergraduate students from URGs and diversifies the Brandeis graduate student body.
  • In 2022, Brandeis launched the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation's Creating Equitable Pathways to STEM Graduate Education program which aims to create new pathways for Hampton undergraduate students into STEM-intensive master's programs at Brandeis.
  • In Summer 2022, eight Hampton University students were accepted into the program and completed a 10-week research and education project.
  • The Brandeis MRSEC REU program pairs undergraduate researchers with a faculty, postdoc or grad student mentor who undergoes mentorship training prior to the summer.
  • Furthermore, by placing undergraduate students in Brandeis research labs with supportive mentors, the MRSEC REU helps recruit graduate students from URGs.

SciComm Lab supports undergraduate students from HBCUs on summer research applications.

  • The Brandeis SciComm Lab provided feedback and one-on-one consultations on REU applications of URM students from Hampton University and Alcorn University.
  • Students from Alcorn State University and Hampton University that leveraged the SciComm Lab for REU application support said they felt more confident in applying for research opportunities.