Our department is comprised of people from diverse backgrounds and life experiences. We believe that diversity makes us stronger as a group and as individuals, because each person’s distinct perspective catalyzes creative problem-solving. The mission of our EDI committee is to continuously improve the culture of our department to increase equity, to embrace and promote diversity, and to ensure that all our members feel included. Furthermore, through outreach in the Durham community, we strive to inspire students to join the next generation of scientists.
We aim to cultivate a safe learning and working environment in which each member of our community is supported and empowered to learn and achieve. We are acutely focused on providing opportunities for personal and professional development of all members of our community. We are also committed to educating members of our community on issues such as implicit bias and micro-aggression. We unequivocally assert that there is no place in our department for harassment or discrimination against any person or group for any reason.
We will improve by identifying problems, by learning from and reflecting upon our missteps and failures, by holding each other accountable for our actions based on our goals and stated values, and by fostering a culture that supports open and transparent communication across all levels of the department.
Scientific discovery requires innovation paired with hard work. I have seen inequity cut out the heart of creativity and motivation, damaging budding scientists in the process. Worse, I realized that I had played a role in propagating these structural inequities. Recognizing the harms done, I felt an obligation to the next generation of scientists to create an academic training environment that is equitable in reality. We are evolving our department, creating an equitable culture by stripping away outdated traps to allow diverse people to thrive in the knowledge that they are welcome and included.
EDI Committee Members
The EDI committee in the Department of Immunology recruits members who are faculty, graduate students, postdocs, research staff, and administrative staff. Current Immunology EDI Committee Members as seen in photo above L-R:
- Ed Miao, Vice Chair for EDI (see EDI Spotlight)
- Naren Mehta
- Miranda Lumbreras
- Saskia Hemmers
- Heather Larson
In 2020, members of Duke Immunology came together to discuss issues related to equity, diversity, and inclusion, with the goal of taking active steps to create a training and working environment that values and supports everyone in our department. The resulting EDI committee enacted a series of reforms and events that changed the culture of our department for the better. These include:
- Initiated monthly meetings between student representatives and faculty leaders.
- This resulted in increased communication and trust.
- A major change arising from these meetings was the modernization of the graduate student preliminary exam from an off-topic exam to an on-topic exam.
- Created guidelines to increase professionalism at Work In Progress presentations.
- Initiated a culture where trainees ask questions first at seminar and work in progress.
- Multiple changes to overall department climate and culture.
- Safe Space Placard
- Seminar series talks: PRIDE foundational 1 and Implicit Bias
- Reporting Discrimination and Harassment resource flier
- Promoted display of pronouns to signal inclusivity
- Seminar series talks: PRIDE foundational 2
- Colorblind Palette information
- Durham PRIDE Festival Booth
- Information for international students on how to navigate the move to Duke