In 2020, the MCB Department established a Community Task Force (CTF) on Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging. CTF members—including students, faculty, postdocs, and staff from a wide variety of backgrounds and roles—regularly meet over Zoom to discuss, brainstorm, and evaluate actions MCB can take to address diversity, equity, and inclusion issues. Their accomplishments include creating a system for anonymously reporting issues and adding CTF representatives to all major departmental committees.
As the CTF enters its second academic year, new members are joining the task force, while others step down. This rotation is partly practical—many CTF members graduate or move on to new jobs—and partly to ensure the CTF represents the full range of identities in MCB. About half of the existing task force members are staying on this year to enable transfer of knowledge between new and old CTF members.
MCB would like to welcome everyone who has recently joined the CTF. These new recruits include Associate Concentration Adviser for MCB & CPB Monique Brewster, Program Coordinator Irina Cashen, Graduate Program Administrator Lindsay Guest, postdoc Colm Kelleher (Needleman Lab), graduate student Mary Richardson (Eddy Lab), graduate student Dustin Tillman (Macklis Lab), and research associate Navish Wadhwa (Berg Lab and Garner Lab).
“I am very excited to join a group of like-minded individuals who seek to make a positive change through collective action,” says Wadhwa. “We all recognize that improving the structure and culture of the department takes time and sustained energy. The impact of our actions may only be visible after some of us have already moved on to other positions or institutions, but I take delight in knowing that I will have contributed to making things better for the next generation.”
MCB would also like to issue a hearty thank you to everyone who served on the CTF during the 2020-2021 academic year, including graduate student Maya Anjur-Dietrich (Needleman Lab), MCB concentrator Suuba Demby (‘22), MCB and OEB faculty Hopi Hoekstra, Associate Director of Undergraduate Studies in MCB and CPB Dominic Mao, graduate student Elizabeth May (Gaudet Lab), Neuroscience concentrator Aba Sam (‘21), and Neuroscience concentrator Taylor Shirtliff-Hinds (‘21).
One of the CTF’s first projects of the new year is working with the FAS Human Resources and the Office of Faculty Affairs to organize a series of workshops on bystander intervention. Each of the three workshops is tailored for a specific audience. MCB staff attended the first workshop during the summer.
The next “Creating a Safe & Healthy Work and Learning Environment: Civility and Bystander Workshop” event is intended for mentees and trainees. It will take place via Zoom on Wednesday, September 29 from 12:00 PM to 1:30 PM.
Undergraduates, graduate students, and postdocs are all encouraged to register for the September 29 workshop here.
Faculty will attend a separate workshop covering the same issues on October 1st. Both workshops will be facilitated by Program Officer for Title IX Moriah Silver.
Many more CTF projects and discussions are in the works. “As a new member, I am excited!” says Lindsay Guest, who joined the CTF this academic year. “As the administrator for the MCO graduate program, I see a great opportunity to ensure that our students feel a strong sense of inclusion and belonging, and that their voices are heard. The CTF has been very welcoming so far, and it is clear that the members are truly dedicated to making crucial changes. I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do this year!”