Graduate Recruitment Initiative Team (GRIT) Advocacy, Recruitment & Retention, and MBL fellowships

Starting Fall 2018, GRIT officially expanded to include new members from the Physical Sciences Division (PSD). We now have over 55 members from both divisions across 18 programs. The next round of membership applications will open in June 2019. Beyond membership, GRIT has made new partnerships with many diversity-focused groups in the BSD and PSD, including women’s advocacy groups, the FLI Network (First-Generation Low-income Immigrant Ally), Out-in-STEM, and AXIS (Allies dedicated to bring disability related discussion, advocacy & community service).
Recruitment: GRIT has had an incredibly active and successful recruitment cycle through the 11 recruiters that went to SACNAS and ABRCMS. We look forward to interacting with the prospective students again during the BSD Interview Weekends and the PSD Visiting Weekends. GRIT has made great strides in advising Admissions Committees across the BSD in their admissions pursuits, including generating a comprehensive GRIT Admissions Guide, on-campus resource guides for faculty, and an updated student feedback form for BSD admissions.
Retention: On campus events have been kicked up several notches! The various teams have been hard at work with organizing programming for the BSD and PSD, including: The Big Gay BBQ, the first ever LGBTQ+ Seminar, monthly Womxn’s Book Club Discussions, quarterly URM Journal Club for the Culture, a workshop on Disabilities Resources for Scientists, and monthly wellness focused Wolf’s Den.

MBL: In order to encourage underrepresented scientists to apply to the Advanced Research Training Courses at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL), GRIT has collaborated with the BSD Office of Graduate Affairs, the Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD) program, and MBL’s Division of Education to create the MBL Equity Fellowship Program to fund 3 underrepresented minority graduate students from UChicago to attend a course at MBL.  

For more information on GRIT, visit  

Breast cancer researcher and diversity advocate to speak, Wed 1/23

Jill Bargonetti, PhD (Professor of Biological Sciences at Hunter College and The Graduate Center, Adjunct Weill Cornell Medical College
City University of New York) will speak on "The Molecular Choreography of Mutant p53 and MDM2 in Breast Cancer" this Wednesday, February 23 at 3 pm in Biological Sciences Learning Center  Rm. 112. Bargonetti is best known for the discovery of the crucial role the p53 protein plays in tumor suppression. Prior to her research, scientists knew of the existence of the p53 protein but had no idea what role it played in metabolic processes.

Dr. Bargonetti credits much of her scientific ingenuity to her background as a dancer and teaches a class, "Choreographing Genomics,"’ where she uses movement to teach information flow through post-modern dance. Dr. Bargonetti's lecture is co-sponsored by the Komen Graduate Training and Disparities Research Program, the University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Committee on Clinical & Translational Science. 

Cultivating Connection
LGBTQ Resilience & Mental Health

The LGBT+ Resource Group will be hosting Elizabeth McConnell who will speak on “queer resiliency and LGBTQ+ mental health. Wednesday, February 13 at 4:00pm; Knapp Center for Biomedical Discovery, Room 1103 
Liz McConnell, M.A. (she/her or they/them) is a doctoral candidate in Clinical-Community Psychology at DePaul University in Chicago, IL. She is a research affiliate with Northwestern University’s Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing, where she completed a three year F31 Fellowship Award from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Liz’s research focuses on socio-contextual influences on the health and wellbeing of intersectionally diverse sexual and gender minority populations using a variety of methodological approaches. Clinically, Liz works with clients from an integrative relational approach grounded in feminist, multicultural, and social justice values.This event is sponsored by the LGBT+ Resource Group and all are welcome to attend.

RSVP:  email your RSVP to Drew Richardson

Diversity Grants to broaden and enhance diversity in science

The Office of Diversity & Inclusion offers grants to Faculty, Students, Postdocs, Trainees, and Staff. These grants are geared toward broadening and enhancing diversity in science and medicine. We offer up to $5,000 to faculty and up to $2,000 for Students, Postdocs, Trainees, and Staff. We have a rolling deadline each month. Check out our grants website here:
We prioritize applications for projects and initiatives that:

  • Investigate diversity related topics, health disparities, or involve underrepresented or sexual minority populations.
  • Support the scholarship of staff, students, and trainees from underrepresented backgrounds, including conference attendance.
  • Enhance diversity related programs and initiatives, including external speakers

UChicago PREP application open
(NIH Post Baccalaureate Research Education Program) 

The 2019 UChicago PREP Application is now open! The application deadline is March 31, 2019. All Scholars who recently completed the PREP Program were accepted to graduate school including one student who matriculated here at UChicago in Autumn Quarter 2018. Professor Nancy Schwartz (Pediatrics), Dean and Director, Postdoctoral Affairs, is the PREP Program Director. Laurie Risner, PhD is the Program Administrator.

E.E. Just portrait by Stephen Flemister​ installed in Just Room

In 2016, a group of Biological Sciences Division graduate students formed the E. E. Just Working Group to promote the achievements of Dr. Ernest Everett Just, PhD 1916, one of the leading developmental biologists of the first half of the 20th century and a member of the faculty at Howard University for more than 30 years. While at Howard, Just helped found the Omega Psi Phi fraternity and served as their first faculty adviser.

The Working Group sought a visually impressive way to commemorate Just as an intellectual peer of the other prominent scholars and scientists whose portraits are displayed on campus, while also drawing attention to the challenges he faced in his career, including racism, lack of financial support for his research, and disagreements with other prominent scientists. In collaboration with the Multicultural Graduate Community, the Working Group commissioned artist Stephen Flemister, a prominent Chicago artist deeply concerned with “shared public image in memory and the problems of representation” to celebrate Just. Work on the portrait formally commenced with a day-long celebration of Just at UChicago on April 18,2018.

The Just portrait was installed in the newly renovated E. E. Just Room (200) in the Erman Biology Center on December 3. The $12,000 total cost of the portrait was paid for by a grant from the BSD Office of Diversity & Inclusion, the Provost's office award to the Just Working Group, as well as by a very generous donation of $4,800 from the Sigma Pi Phi Foundation. Sigma Pi Phi is the professional fraternity, which proudly claims Dr. Just as a member. Dr. Raphael Lee, Department of Surgery and a Sigma Pi Phi Brother, generously helped facilitate this commemoration of Dr. Just's life and scientific achievement. The Omega Psi Phi fraternity and the Medicine & Biological Sciences Development team also contributed to successfully completing this project.

Just Working Group
Sophia Carryl, Shane DuBay, Victoria Flores, Peter Flynn, Joel Mercado-Díaz, Daniela Palmer, Katherine Silliman, Laura Southcott (Committee on Evolutionary Biology PhD students), Carolyn Johnson Committee on Evolutionary Biology, Graduate Education Administrator), Mark Bitter (Ecology & Evolution PhD student), André Green (Ecology & Evolution Postdoctoral Scholar), Unjin Lee (Genetics, Genomics and Systems Biology PhD student), Andrea Bryant, (Physics PhD student)

 Pictures from the celebration in April 2018 are posted on facebook here and from the Iota Chapter of Omega Psi Phi here.

Event to formally celebrate Just portrait installation planned

The Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs is planning a formal event this spring to celebrate the Just Portrait installation. Please keep an eye out for further information.

UCCCC Cancer Education Programs Update

This past summer, the UChicago Comprehensive Cancer Center (UCCCC) celebrated five fantastic years of cancer research training for high school and college students. The CURE (Continuing Umbrella of Research Experience) program welcomed its inaugural cohort of 7 students in Summer 2014. Since then, 41 young researchers have participated in the program, now known as Chicago EYES (Educators and Youth Enjoy Science) on Cancer. The program also welcomes secondary science educators, accepting its first cohort of 3 teachers in Summer 2018.

ResearcHStart welcomed its first students in Summer 2015, replacing the popular High School Summer Research Program formerly run by the American Cancer Society (ACS). The UCCCC Education Team directs researcHStart, overseeing additional program sites at the University of Illinois (Chicago and Urbana-Champaign) and Northwestern University. A total of 86 high school students have completed the program, 26 of whom were placed on our campus.
Highlights from Summer 2018 include a four-part CAN-TV series produced by students to educate Chicago communities about advances in cancer research, service outings to the Illinois Medical District Guest House, and a visit by United States Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) to the Chicago EYES on Cancer Annual Summer Research Symposium.
In addition to summer cancer research programs, the UCCCC Education Team is involved in a range of initiatives to bring cancer education and science enrichment to community members of all ages. This includes the Science Works career fair and DNA Day celebrations at the Museum of Science and Industry, curriculum development for the Chicago Public Libraries Summer Learning Challenge, and science-based professional development activities for elementary and middle school science educators.

Want to get involved? The UCCCC Education Team is recruiting volunteers to serve as peer mentors, research supervisors, guests lecturers and more. For more information, please contact Megan Mekinda (; 773-702-4678) or complete our one-minute survey about your interests in education and outreach:

Photo caption: EYES students Rene Maldonado, Alexis James, Crystal Mercado, Zak Sadoun, Ocean Malka, and Blake McBeth (L-R) get ready to present at the 2018 Summer Cancer Research Symposium on August 9, 2018.
EE Just speakers

Submit nominations for E. E. Just Lecturer 2019

Dear BDC Members,

I am soliciting your input to identify the 2019 E. E. Just Lecturer. Please share your recommendations of talented scientists doing cutting edge research in the biological sciences. Ideal E. E. Just lecturers will speak on topics of broad interest to the BSD community and will either be members of underrepresented groups or have a strong record of promoting diversity. We will carry-over several nominees from last year, and have already received a nomination for this year. The 2019-20 lecture date is not set yet but will likely be in Autumn 2019. 

Please enter your nominations for E. E. Just speakers here.

If you prefer, you may also email recommendations to together with brief details on why you feel this is an appropriate person by February 4.

Thank you for your help,
Vicky Prince
BDC welcomes new student co-chair

In Autumn Quarter 2018, Christina Roman was selected by the student members of the BDC to serve as the student BDC co-chair. Roman is a fourth year Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics student studying with Dr. Joseph Piccirilli. She is an HHMI Gilliam Fellow, one of the founding members of GRIT, a past president of the UChicago SACNAS chapter, and an alumnus of IMSD, as well as a post-baccalaureate PREP scholar in BDC member Dr. Phoebe Rice's (Biochemistry and Molecular Biology) lab. Roman is committed to helping restructure the BDC to be more proactive in efforts to improve diversity, inclusion and equity among UChicago Biosciences trainees.

BDC Co-Chairs: Professor Eileen Dolan (Medicine), Adam Hammond, PhD (Biophysics) and Christina Roman (BMB)
New Faculty: Dr. Loren Saulsberry (Public Health Sciences)
New Administrators: Shani Charles (Molecular Biosciences), Amber Chatellier (Biomedical Sciences), Stephanie Laine-Nazaire (CAMB, DRSB)

The complete BDC membership list will be updated shortly and posted at

Únicos, Unidos y Orgullosos Unique, United, and Proud
Pritzker hosts Latino Medical Student Association Conference 

The annual Latino Medical Student Association Midwest conference will be held at UofC on February 2, 2019 and will take place at Ida Noyes Hall. The conference serves as a forum for many key topics in Hispanic healthcare, from culturally humility and concordant care to immigration reform and healthcare policy. Moreover, the conference consistently exposes attendees to workshops and panels covering hands-on clinical skills, student leadership training, and strategies for success in the medical school and residency application processes.

This year, the conference theme will be “Únicos, Unidos y Orgullosos (Unique, United, and Proud): Celebrating Diversity in Medicine,” which we hope will speak to the richness of backgrounds and heritages that Latinos bring to the doctor-patient relationship. In terms of expected attendance, we anticipate having 200 student attendees: 140 medical students, 30 undergraduates, and 30 high school students. 
All trainees are welcome to attend, acknowledging that there is a fee to attend. More information can be found at Registration can be found at Shared by BDC member Donald Rodriguez (ISTP)

Multicultural Graduate Community (MGC) Update

The Multicultural Graduate Community continues its tradition of hosting Diversity in Science Roundtables, informal and frank discussions with visiting speakers at all stages of their careers on diversity in science, academic life, and beyond. On Thursday, November 15th, MGC with support from the BDC hosted a capacity attendance roundtable in the Just Room with Dr. Scott Edwards, Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology and Curator of Ornithology, Harvard University. On Thursday, November 29th, MGC also hosted Dr. Carlos A. Botero, Assistant Professor, Biology at Washington University, St. Louis for another lively discussion in the Just Room.

MGC is accepting recommendations for the Diversity in Science Roundtable for Winter & Spring 2019 from programs across the BSD. Please contact Sophia Carryl or Nadya Ali if you are interested in collaborating on an upcoming event.

Register and Volunteer Now
2019 Midwest Regional Conference at UChicago

The 2019 Midwest Regional SACNAS Conference at UChicago will be on Saturday, April 6th from 9am-5pm. The event will take place at Eckhardt Research Center (5640 South Ellis Ave). Registration is open and available at this link: 
And more details are available at 
Along with undergraduate and graduate registrants, we are also looking for volunteers. We are also looking for faculty judges for posters and abstracts. Anyone who wants to get involved can register at those links! 
On Thursday, January 31, 2019 at 5 PM – 8 PM in BLSC 240, UChicago SACNAS is hosting an "Improv for Scientific Communication" workshop where participants will apply skills from improv comedy to improve their public speaking. The details are: 

UChicago SACNAS recognized for outstanding professional development

The University of Chicago SACNAS Chapter was awarded the 2018 SACNAS Outstanding Professional Development Award, with efforts for the 2017-18 academic year that were "exemplary of the type of accomplishments and activities that are in line with the SACNAS mission." Chapter leaders were formally recognized at 2018 SACNAS in San Antonio, Texas in October.

NRMN-CAN Mentoring Workshop Training Opportunities 

The NIH-funded National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN) – CIC Academic Network (CAN) initiative addresses the need for greater diversity in the biomedical academic research workforce across the country and is designed to support the academic career path of researchers from underrepresented backgrounds.

NRMN-CAN provides professional development, grantwriting, and mentor training to Early Stage Investigators from underrepresented populations in the biomedical workforce and assists mentors in developing core competencies for mentor facilitating and grantwriting coaching.

Mentor Training Workshops are planned for this Spring--the Facilitator Training is already full, but slots are still available for the Postdoc Mentoring Up, March 17-18 at the Big Ten Conference Center. For more information, contact Laurie Risner, NRMN-CAN Program Coordinator.

The 4th Annual NRMN-CAN Professional Development and Grantwriting Conference, “Passport to Success: From Management to Grantsmanship” was held on September 30 – October 2, 2018 at the Big Ten Conference Center in Rosemont, IL.  The 55 attendees from Big Ten Academic Alliance institutions included 30 postdoctoral and junior faculty trainees, 7 faculty grantwriting coaches, and 18 NRMN-CAN guest speakers and committee representatives.

Dr. Schwartz hosts pilot workshop to optimize research mentoring relationships for diverse trainees and their mentors

The National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN) and the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) recently collaborated to host a pilot workshop titled, “Optimizing Research Mentoring Relationships for Doctoral and Postdoctoral Scholars." This workshop was generously funded by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund  and was held in conjunction with the AAMC annual GREAT (Graduate Research, Education, and Training Group) Meeting for graduate and postdoc leaders from across the country. 

Dr. Nancy Schwartz, NRMN-CAN Director and Dean of Postdoctoral Affairs received the award from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund and brought together Dr. Christine Pfund, NRMN Contact PI, Dr. Melissa McDaniels, Co-Director of the NRMN Master Facilitator Initiative, Dr. Japera Johnson Hemming, NRMN Research Associate, and Dr. Irena Tartakovsky, Director of Constituent Engagement at the AAMC, to plan and implement this workshop.

The goals of the workshop were to: introduce national models being used to optimize research mentoring relationships for diverse trainees and their mentors, describe implementation approaches for mentor and mentee training, discuss creation of sustainable efforts in mentorship training, and increase outreach and interactions between GREAT group leaders and the NIH-funded Diversity Program Consortium initiatives including the NRMN.

Twenty-five invited leaders of the AAMC GREAT group attended this pilot workshop which started on the evening of September 29, 2018, with a networking dinner. To kick off the workshop, an introductory activity included table discussions on challenges faced at institutions in advancing best practices in mentoring. Each participant had completed a survey before the event which asked about mentor training practices and policies at their own institution. The survey results had been tabulated and were next presented and reactions were assessed from the attendees. For the final session that evening, Dr. Christine Pfund presented a talk on “The National Landscape for Improving Mentorship” and answered questions from the group.

In the first session on the second day of the meeting, the group was challenged to come up with their own unique plans to implement mentor training programs at their institutions. A three step process was offered: 1. Share current successes and program models with their small group. 2. Make a plan of action. 3. Identify needed and available resources at their institution or within the AAMC GREAT group. Participants completed template documents of their current initiatives and of their plans, both of which were collected to create a resource library.

In the final sessions, obstacles to implementing mentorship training workshops were discussed, along with potential solutions on how to move toward a sustainable change in training practices. A follow up survey after the event found that participants were overall very satisfied with the content of the workshop, appreciated learning about strategies for implementing mentor training, and came away with a plan of action to better mentor training at their institutions.  Please contact Laurie Risner for further information.
BSD Diversity Committee
Questions? Please contact

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