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Meet the 2021 JEDI Champions

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
  • Faculty Mentor: Suzanne Pfeffer

    Throughout my training in the biomedical sciences I’ve tried to “pay forward” the countless mentoring and support I’ve received. I arrived at Stanford in 2018 and shortly thereafter became involved in DEI initiatives lead by the Stanford University Postdoctoral Association (SURPAS). In the past I served as co-chair for the SURPAS JEDI committee, SURPAS advocacy coordinator, and postdoctoral representative for the School of Medicine’s Diversity Cabinet. I’m most proud of my contributions to the Diversity Perspectives Seminar Series and OPA’s postdoctoral recruitment initiative (PRISM).

  • Faculty Mentor: Joanna Wysocka

    Developmental Biology/HHMI
    I am inspired by the many people on campus working to make Stanford more inclusive and supportive, and I strive to amplify and build on these efforts. As co-chair of the SURPAS JEDI committee, I am proud to organize events that aim to build a community for all Stanford trainees to educate, mentor, and support each other. I also serve on the Chemical and Systems Biology and Developmental Biology departmental DEI committees, where I advocate for current postdocs and try to reduce the barriers to a more diverse future postdoc population.

  • Faculty Mentor: Charles Eesley

    Management Science and Engineering
    I am myself an Asian female, and I changed my academic major from the engineering field to the management field, so I have full empathy when seeing younger researchers, especially international students and female students feel lost, frustrated and weak when pursuing their academic dreams. I just feel obligated to offer help, to help people like me, just like how I received help from other people in my growth.
    I am proud that I still have the courage and strength, to fight for something I believe is right and fair. My research work focuses on understanding entrepreneurship in developing countries and crowd-based entrepreneurship tools. I like my research as I can see how it does help the world to become more diverse and more equal.
    I am passionate about entrepreneurship education and entrepreneurship itself. For me, creating itself is a process stressing equality and diversity.

  • Faculty Mentor: Thomas Montine

    As a first-generation low-income student, I have a great passion for interacting and helping communities in those spaces. I am an active member of Letters to a Pre-Scientist, Skype a Scientist, the New York Academy of Science’s “1,000 Girls 1,000 Futures” programs. Each of these programs help expose kids to science when they most likely wouldn’t normally get this opportunity. I often think of the people who helped me along the way and remember that the key to a more balanced and equitable science space is making space for others and not closing the figurative door after one has been opened for you.

  • Faculty Mentor: Carla Shatz

    "Ioana has been a long-standing advocate for justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion among Stanford postdocs. She founded and chaired the JEDI committee within SURPAS roughly 4 years ago (originally called the Postdoc Diversity Advisory Committee) and spearheaded the creation of the Someone Like Me mentoring program and more recently the Better Ally series, in addition to overseeing the Diversity Perspectives Seminar Series, and interfacing with other student groups to coordinate JEDI efforts across campus. This work has impacted scores of postdocs (120 are currently on the committee’s Slack channel) as well as graduate students and staff who have attended events organized by the committee. Even as she passes leadership of the committee onto the next generation, she continues to help guide the new leadership to ensure its future success. In addition, she serves on the Neurobiology DEI committee. Her work has inspired and empowered many other postdocs like me to take actions to improve the Stanford postdoc community, and I cannot imagine anyone more deserving of an inaugural Stanford Postdoc JEDI Champion award." --- Words from a Nomination Statement for Ioana

  • Faculty Mentor: Ami Bhatt

    I am passionate about making college education accessible to traditionally under-represented minorities (URMs). Education is a powerful catalyst of socioeconomic mobility with the potential to make the world more equitable. However, access to higher education is limited to those with privilege, and the absence of role models often deters URMs from higher education. To tackle this barrier, I founded and produce a podcast, Science Blender, that captures the lived experiences and scientific endeavors of graduate students with diverse backgrounds. The podcast elevates the voices of these individuals as role models while also appreciating the entirety of their experiences as people and scientists.

  • Faculty Mentor: Kenneth Mahaffey

    Cardiovascular Medicine
    I believe that communication and cultural learning are some of the keys to reduce health disparities and increase the quality of health care and research. It is only by truly understanding and learning from each other that we can really blossom and grow. By increasing the access of culturally diverse populations to the science centers, we welcome new perspectives, ways to communicate, and ideas into our realms and this results in richer outcomes for everybody. Personally, I am proud of being Latin American and am passionate about increasing our representation in clinical trials and access to the health care system. With a population of 25% Latinxs in the Bay Area, little has been done to truly include, celebrate, and support these folks. My goal is to keep this conversation going and ally this passion with Stanford's support so that, little by little, we can change this reality. Thank you Stanford Center for Clinical Research for really embracing this cause!

  • Faculty Mentor: Allison Okamura
    Mechanical Engineering

    "I believe most fundamentally in listening to marginalized and minority groups so that societal forces can be addressed to improve quality of life.   A lot of my work focuses on individuals with physical disability such as paralysis or low vision.  I understand personally how having a physical disability is like a second full-time job, incurs unearned stigma, and is not widely understood.
    In the classroom and in daily life, these additional burdens make high-performing even more difficult to achieve. A similar framework applies to acknowledging the challenges of other minority groups. I aim to address these inequalities first by teaching members of my research team to be inclusive, compassionate, and supportive - using strategies such as amplification and person-centered language.  I also work to educate communities on the needs and resources of several underrepresented groups -- such as students with low vision and women in engineering.  In my research, I work to develop new technology-enabled treatments to improve hand function after stroke.  I am passionate about understanding the needs and wants of individuals with history of brain injury, and I endeavor to improve their quality of life."

  • Faculty Mentor: Jennifer Raymond

    I think it would be wonderful if young generations across the globe get equivalent support and exposure to modern tools and resources to prepare themselves to take care of the world's next big challenges. Hence, I want to act as a facilitator for marginalized groups who need a little extra support to change their life trajectory as well as impact their community in a positive way. I have been involved with many JEDI-related activities, such as being involved in the Stanford Neurobiology department's Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee, as well as being part of the Bangladesh Neuroscience Society, which promotes neuroscience among the young generation in Bangladesh. I am particularly proud of forming an non-profit organization name Education, Science & Innovation Alliance (ESIA) that aims to help young generations from disadvantageous backgrounds to become next generation leader in their community.

  • Faculty Mentor: Themistocles Assimes

    Cardiovascular Medicine
    As someone from an underrepresented minority (URM), I want to give back to my community and ensure their voice is heard. I have been motivated by doing work that helps improve visibility and access to resources for URMs in research. One of the efforts I’m proudest of is launching BlackInCardio and celebrating black scientists in the cardiovascular field around the world. At Stanford, I’m particularly proud of the recommendations for recruiting and improving retention of URMs at all levels, particularly at the postdoc level, in the department of pediatrics through my contributions in the recruitment team of SPAARC. I'm looking forward to continuing studying the genetics of cardiovascular diseases in URMs through my research and highlighting the work of black scientists in BlackinCardio.

  • Faculty Mentor: Chris Francis

    Earth System Science
    In my time at Stanford, I am most proud of my work with the SURPAS JEDI committee, oSTEM and LGBTQ+ postdocs group, and working with amazing postdocs and graduate students to launch the Someone Like Me mentoring program. As a gay scientist, I often felt like I did not fit in or belong in many academic and scientific settings. After finding and building a community here among SURPAS and other postdoc affinity groups, it has been my goal to help create and maintain inclusive spaces for others to feel welcome within my lab, department, School of Earth, and across campus.

  • Faculty Mentor: Peter Parham
    Structural Biology