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Diversity and Equity Committee

Department Diversity Statement

In the Department of Biology, we continue to strive for an inclusive and welcoming departmental culture that recognizes and encourages individual differences, that fosters the constructive expression of ideas, and that promotes shared values such as intellectual curiosity, creativity, collegiality, and sense of mission. Traditions of inclusivity can only flourish and reach full potential with continued active nourishment and effort, and with a collective sense of responsibility and mission on the part of the entire community. We as a department are committed to the continued development of our diverse and collegial community of people, ideas, and approaches through our missions of research, education, and public outreach.

Diversity & Equity Committee

During the 2023-2024 academic year, the Diversity & Equity Committee (DEC) will support these efforts via the following activities:
  • Department-wide DEI Climate Survey
  • Development of DEI Future Actions Plan
  • Participation in Faculty Searches
  • Participation in Graduate recruitment and retention activities
  • Development and participation in mentoring, networking, & training activities

If you would like to contribute to these activities or share your perspectives, please contact Sharlene Santana, Chair of the Diversity & Equity Committee, at

DEC Members 2023-2024

Sharlene Santana (Chair)
Carl Bergstrom
Berry J Brosi
Oscar Chacon
Manogya Chandar
Vaibhav Chhaya
Yasmeen Erritouni
Zaniah Flores
Janet Germeraad
Katie Holt
Andrea Pardo
Elli Theobald

Ongoing DEC Activities

Note: This section is currently being updated.

Faculty Searches & Graduate Recruitment

  • Provide feedback to Faculty Search Committees on job ad and phase I plans, applying lenses that emphasize diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Contribute to Faculty Search Committees and provide liaisons between the Diversity & Equity Committee and Faculty Search Committees through the efforts of jointly appointed faculty members and a jointly appointed graduate students.
  • Review diversity statements during phase I and phase II, with all diversity statements reviewed and discussed by both faculty members and graduate students, who examine DEI (1) knowledge, (2) track record, and (3) plans. Interview and recruit candidates during Diversity & Equity Committee faculty search candidate meetings in phase IV.
  • Annotate the Biology faculty search manual, documenting DEC contributions and providing rationale for current and future evidence-based practices for improving equity in faculty hiring.
  • Advise the Graduate & Postdoc Program Committee on graduate admissions and recruitment, applying lenses that emphasize diversity, equity, and inclusion and bringing perspectives from our work with faculty searches.

Mentoring, Networking, & Training

  • Identify potential training activities that are well aligned with department needs, interview potential trainers, and prepare proposals for training activities for 2023-2025.
  • Reinstate a Code of Conduct & Conflict Resolution subcommittee to support communication, conflict resolution, and building of inclusive environments.

Past DEC Contributions

Co-chaired by Dr. Brian Buchwitz and Dr. Karen Petersen, in these past few years DEC contributed to these areas, in addition to many of the ones already mentioned above:

  • With the Graduate & Postdoc Program Committee, developed mentoring compacts for graduate, postdoc, and staff researchers.
  • Supported the HHMI Gilliam Seminars in Biology, organized by Jennifer Nemhauser and Romi Ramos. These seminars provided opportunities for learning and for amplifying Black excellence in biology, with visits from four leading Black plant biologists.
  • Compiled work study resources that can be used by research groups (e.g., how to arrange and advertise work study positions) and undergraduate students (e.g., how to leverage work study funds for research opportunities).
  • Identified strategies for fostering participation in work study opportunities by research groups (e.g., faculty meeting mini-workshops) and undergraduate students (e.g., outreach activities).
  • Supported the UW Biology Majors: Building Community and Diversifying Leadership project, directed by Jennifer Doherty and Brian Buchwitz and funded by a UW Diversity & Inclusion Seed Grant.

Additionally, with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the lifting of the veil on structural inequities and institutional racism, the DEC moved to support antiracism discussions that were occurring throughout our departmental community, including in classrooms, laboratories, and offices. This support included co-facilitating, co-hosting, and co-organizing events:

  • Diversity & Equity Committee (DEC) / Graduate & Postdoc Program Committee (GPC) Weekly Department Culture Office Hours (Archives)
  • Department of Biology #ShutDownSTEM Teach-In: Day of Anti-Racism Learning and Community Building (Resources and Slides)
  • Department of Biology Antiracism Book Club: How to Be an Antiracist by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi
  • Department of Biology Department Retreat: "SafeCampus Empowering Prevention & Inclusive Community (EPIC)" Training Program and "Aligning Expectations: Mentoring Compacts" Workshop

As we, as a society, shifted abruptly to remote instruction, the DEC co-organized the weekly Biology Learning and Teaching Community around the topic of “Community, Equity, Learning, and Teaching during the COVID-19 Pandemic” (resources). In doing so, the DEC built a space for instructors and teaching assistants to support one another and ultimately their students, pedagogically and socially, with a strong emphasis on equity and inclusion.

In response to student and instructor concerns, the Department Chair and the Executive Committee, with input from the Chair of the Diversity and Equity Committee, identified student accommodations as a priority. In consultation with the Executive Committee, the BIOL 180, 200, and 220 instructional teams crafted a plan for accommodations that spanned the entire introductory series. Additionally, the department supported all instructors in providing blanket accommodations and provided a form for students to convey anonymous concerns about accommodations.

Date last changed Apr 5th, 2024 @ 15:45:09 PDT