Stanford Postdoc JEDI Champion Awards are a recognition of current Stanford University postdoctoral scholars who have championed initiatives, activities, or efforts that advance justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion at Stanford and beyond.Read about JEDI Champion Awards
JEDI should be inherently integrated within our academic spaces, such that we no longer need initiatives, committees, or cluster hires dedicated to championing JEDI in our departments, on our campuses, and in our fields. Spaces that are not just, equitable, diverse, or inclusive inhibit productive and meaningful science. They require time and bandwidth from those most impacted to champion JEDI. It continues to be the most challenging and rewarding part of my growth as a scientist to navigate many academic spaces as the only Muslim-American woman in these spaces. My hope is that one day someone like me – a member of an underrepresented racial/ethnic group in STEM – can contribute to academia without regards to their identity. If they so choose.
Sean N. Parker Center for Allergy and Asthma Research
Air pollution is attributed to 7-million annual deaths worldwide and adverse health effects. Many are at-risk because of biological reasons (age, health status, pregnancy) but others are at greater risk because of outdated policies, systemic racism, and circumstance. At Stanford, I work with a team researching the impact of air pollution in at-risk groups given the prevalence of fire smoke in the U.S. and the increasing burden from climate change. Through our work, we aim to reduce air pollution exposures and associated health risks, develop better communication strategies, and support actions among at-risk groups. Together we can promote meaningful changes.
All people deserve to experience and contribute to physics regardless of identity or economic status. I love this beautiful science, and will work to remove the culture of exclusivity, racism, and inequity in physics so that others can share that love. The nEXO experiment’s mentorship program gives students an easy avenue for making role models, and encourages those mentors to empower students that may not share their same background or race. I want to promote a welcoming, happy community of diverse identities and perspectives so that we can work together to solve difficult problems we face in society and science.
JEDI work is community work. JEDI work is internal work. Nothing can change without the support of those around you. Nothing can change without you changing yourself.
All that I’ve learned in this space has been from working with and listening to others. Listen to Black women. Listen to indigenous femmes. Listen to queer, trans and gender non-binary people. Listen to people who live with a disability. (Not an exclusive or exhaustive list.)
It is an honor and a privilege to be in coalition with others who are also working towards our collective liberation. The CCC&AOP program has been and continues to be a hugely important source of both inspiration and motivation for me. I am also fortunate to work with incredibly passionate, service-minded people within SURPAS.
The impact of music and the arts on health, society, and culture are numerous and well documented. During a time of social isolation, equipping educators, students, and individuals with accessible technology for real-time remote music and art provides a means for empowering cultural change and promoting social justice. By hosting a series of free online workshops and seminars, we formed a community of educators working towards expanding diversity, equity, and inclusion using remote technology and creative practices. As in-person teaching resumes, we can continue working towards our goals through co-located concerts and exhibitions between classrooms worldwide.
Through mentorship and scientific outreach initiatives with a commitment to JEDI principles, I strive to counter systemic biases and empower underrepresented and minoritized communities. Outside the lab, I am a science journalist for TheWire.in Science and an avid science communicator - routinely delivering scientific talks to students in my home country, India.
Female role models have inspired me from childhood. Thus, I am passionate about mentoring women and girls in STEM and enabling them to become the next generation of leaders, through various organizations – AWIS, BioSci Connect, etc. As SURPAS Events Coordinator, I promote events that foster inclusion and belonging, such as the Science is Elementary mentorship program.
I am motivated to create bridges and collaborations between Stanford and Latin American governments, institutions, academics, and local communities, so that we can together find ways to effectively protect natural ecosystems across Latin America. I am passionate about collaborating with members of underrepresented groups so that we can think differently about the problems and the solutions to combat biodiversity loss. I am most proud of the series of webinars that I have coordinated with my colleagues, which we offered in Spanish/English with simultaneous translation. Most recently, we convened a group of actors that would typically not interact, because of the increased effort on translation, interpretation, and recruitment. Being able to reduce language barriers to increase participation in meaningful ways has allowed me to create deep relationships with the Colombian government and with the Costa Rican coffee institute, albeit the pandemic.
Neurology & Neurological Sciences
Now maybe more than ever, we know that representation is so important, and going years without seeing anyone that looked like me in positions of leadership, and with seeing so few of my peers around me, I often questioned whether this space was meant for me. This story is all too familiar for Black people in STEM, and tackling that isolation by building community remains one of the core motivations behind Black In Neuro.
While a career in neuroscience can be an amazing ride, it will not be without challenges.
My goal as Director of Programs is that through the community we've built and resources we provide for Black scholars is to lessen the likelihood that questioning whether you belong will not be one of them.
I am a passionate advocate for JEDI and prioritize learning to advocate for and empower my peers in this space. I work to achieve this goal by co-leading diversity and inclusion meetings in the Mordecai lab and compiling resources for JEDI professional development, including guides for best mentorship practices and decolonizing ecology and public health research. My commitment to JEDI requires continuous listening and learning to evolve my practices based on the feedback of individuals with historically excluded identities. I look forward to learning from the Stanford community and striving to increase JEDI for postdocs and students.
English is the “universal language of scientific research” and has facilitated dispersion of scientific ideas. Unfortunately, using a single language to communicate research findings has also acted as a gatekeeper limiting science accessibility in communities for whom English is not the predominant language. This acts as a barrier for immigrant communities in the US and developing countries throughout the world. Most of my past work in the JEDI space has focused on English-language science outreach. Now, I aim to join many like-minded activists aiming to surmount this barrier by developing and disseminating scientific research and educational materials in multiple languages.
Neurology & Neurological Sciences
Instead of our differences bringing us together, it tears us apart. We hide and live in fear instead of embracing and celebrating ourselves. Meetings to discuss race, equity, inclusion and justice, emails expressing shock and horror about the evil people do on account of race and religion, mean nothing if we follow through with no tangible action. If I can make one person feel respected, accepted and empowered and perhaps pass the feeling along, then I have achieved my goal. Even the smallest acts can make a significant difference.
Through Stanford JEDI work, I have served in different roles including Stanford University Postdoctoral Association’s first advocacy coordinator, Stanford’s Long Range Planning-Education Area Steering Group postdoc representative, and a co-founder of Stanford Development Biology Postdoc Preview Program. In these roles, I have worked with many other JEDI champions to raise awareness and to address a lack of affordability and diversity for postdocs at Stanford through new programs and initiatives. This work has been incredibly rewarding in that it empowers us, myself and others, to connect, to grow and to learn as we work together to build a more just, equitable, diverse, and inclusive environment at Stanford.