Commitment to Diversity

The goal of WITNe is not to grow for the sake of growth, but rather to provide the best environment to train scientists and engineers to build a therapy, translate that science into routine clinical practice and ultimately help patients. This includes finding the right people to build that environment and creating the opportunities and programs that will foster in a new era of diversity and inclusion in STEM.

Diversity in Action:

WITNe is committed to fostering an inclusive environment and is actively involved in diversity advancement in the Neuroscience, Biomedical Engineering, and STEM industries as well as in the UW-Madison campus and laboratory communities.

As part of ongoing discussions with WITNe members, we have implemented several new lab wide practices to highlight diverse scientists within the field. The WITNe journal club and website are two avenues by which we are promoting and celebrating their work. Every Thursday morning the WITNe group gathers (virtually) for a journal club, at least one meeting per month highlights a paper from a first author or lab who is part of an underrepresented minority in STEM.

Secondly, at least once per semester we conduct a journal club on a diversity or health disparities topic within or beyond our field.  We specifically identify studies that focus on health disparities of underrepresented and disadvantaged communities, where failure to model and represent these communities within the clinical trial design led to an unfavorable outcome, or where the authors did an exceptional job of incorporating health disparities into their trial design.

Leadership in Action:

As the former NIH Program Director for Neuroengineering, Dr. Kip Ludwig has a longstanding interest in promoting diversity and inclusion at a national level. He has served on the Trans-NIH Diversity Working Groups and Health Disparities Working Groups for almost five years. He is a currently a member of the Society for Neuroscience Professional Development Committee (https://www.sfn.org/About/Volunteer-Leadership/Committees/Professional-Development-Committee), including the sub-committees on Career Development and Networking Subcommittee (CDN), Diversity in Neuroscience Subcommittee (DINS), and Women in Neuroscience Subcommittee (WINS). This includes helping to arrange and execute the Diversity Poster Session, the Mentor/Fellow Reception and the Diversity Reception at the annual Society for Neuroscience Meeting. Additionally Dr. Ludwig serves as a reviewer and mentor for the SfN Neuroscience Fellows Program, intended to promote the careers of diverse scientists at the graduate and post-doctoral levels

Dr. Aviad Hai  is part of the Committee on Diversity and Inclusion for the Biomedical Engineering (BME) department. Dr. Hai is currently developing a workshop for middle-school students and their teachers as part of an educational plan for an NSF CAREER proposal. It will be a Private Investigator and undergraduate student led summer workshop with a strong emphasis on underrepresented and underprivileged middle school students in the Madison area.  The workshop will also enable undergraduate students in our department to apply the instructional and communication skills they’ve learned to teaching middle school students and their teachers. The undergraduate students will guide middle-school students in building and using prototype sensors they develop during the school year.

Dr. Justin Williams has been instrumental in helping to address diversity within Biomedical Engineering at UW-Madison. During his tenure as the chair of the BME hiring committee and as BME department chair the UW Madison Biomedical Engineering department became the first engineering department in the nation to achieve gender equity among their faculty ranks.

Resources:

The Diversity Inventory (https://diversityinventory.wisc.edu/) is a searchable online database of diversity and inclusion programs, events, research, support services, and assessment on campus and in the Madison community. This centralized directory collects and reports diversity data, ultimately affecting change by connecting students, faculty, and staff to initiatives that are creating a more inclusive campus community.

The NIH and the Society for Neuroscience have developed a toolkit to help search committee members assess and understand their own implicit biases. This ToolKit (https://neuronline.sfn.org/diversity/iwin-toolkit-implicit-bias) also includes presentations on strategies for diversity candidate evaluation and recruitment to minimize these biases.

“Searching for Excellence & Diversity: A Guide for Search committees at the University of Wisconsin- Madison, 2nd ed.” – The UW Campus uses this guide for educating search committee members about best practices.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison Multicultural Graduate Network: https://grad.wisc.edu/diversity/multicultural-graduate-network/ – is not only dedicated to providing career development and networking opportunities for diverse groups, but providing resources and training to heighten awareness and increase sensitivity to diversity and disparities topics for ALL individuals.

SACNAS is the official acronym for Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics & Native Americans in Science. SACNAS has served as an inclusive organization dedicated to fostering the success of Chicano/Hispanics & Native Americans, from college students to professionals, in attaining advanced degrees, careers, and positions of leadership within STEM. https://www.sacnas.org/sacnas-biography-project/

Anne’s List for Women in STEM – https://anneslist.net/home/neural-engineering/. This list was originally assembled by Anne Churchland, with input from Yael Niv and Adrienne Fairhall and is now being managed by Lamiae Abdeladim to aid in choosing speakers for the Cosyne and other conferences.

Society for Neuroscience (SfN) ‘Neuroscience Scholars Program (NSP)’ to support URM grads/post-docs in Neuroscience – https://www.sfn.org/initiatives/diversity-initiatives/neuroscience-scholars-program. Underrepresented graduate or postdoctoral researchers have the opportunity to join this award-winning program to enhance their career and build community.

SfN – Diverse Speakers Pagesfn.org/diversity-initiatives

Black in Neuro – https://www.blackinneuro.com/home – celebrating Black excellence in neuroscience related fields.