On February 10th, the ACS webinars hosted an interactive panel discussion on novel approaches, models and pedagogies in chemistry to advance diversity, equity, inclusion and respect (DEIR) efforts in the academic and professional environment. Professor Leyte Winfield helped organize this ACS webinar jointly produced by ACS Publications and ACS Education. Professor Leyte Winfield is Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Chair of Science and Mathematics at Spelman College. Professor Winfield and webinar moderator Professor Zakiya Wilson-Kennedy are also editors of the ACS Symposium Series eBook Growing Diverse STEM Communities: Methodology, Impact and Evidence.

You can view the recording of the webinar and download the webinar slides now.

Moderator and moderators

The webinar was moderated by Professor Zakiya Wilson-Kennedy, Assistant Dean of Diversity & Inclusion at the College of Science and Associate Professor of Research in Chemistry Education at Louisiana State University.

There was an expert group of education scholars and leaders who lead the DEIR effort and publish their work to expand the participation effort:

  • Professor Anthony DePass, Co-director, understand interventions; Headmaster, DePass Academic Consulting; Professor of Biology at Long Island University
  • Professor Lourdes Echegoyen, Research Associate, Chemistry and Biochemistry; Director of the BUILDING SCHOLARS Center at the University of Texas, El Paso
  • Professor Michelle Claville, Assistant Dean and Professor of Chemistry, Hampton University; Program Director, NSF Undergraduate Programs

Creating an integrative, resilient future for chemistry

The webinar focused on the growing problem of students leaving chemical companies and other STEM programs at rates that could affect workforce stability. This variation is even more pronounced among women and among ethnic and racial minorities, who drop out twice as often as other student groups.

Panelists helped in asking what can be done to prevent this exodus and create an inclusive, resilient future. An upcoming special edition in the Journal of Chemical Education on diversity, equity, inclusion and respect in research in the field of didactics of chemistry and practice is currently open for submissions up April 30, 2021and this collection of publications will serve as a reference in this important area. Professors Wilson-Kennedy and Winfield are among the guest editors for this special edition.

The global audience who attended this webinar learned of the breadth of research expanding the participation of individuals from groups underrepresented in STEM, including examples of DEIR initiatives that apply research and practice in chemical education to representation, Expand commitment and success.

Dr. Anthony DePass shared his view on the entirety of published and publishable work related to STEM professional development and STEM education. In particular, the understanding of interventions aims to “use hypothesis-based research to conduct interventions and initiatives that expand participation in scientific and technical research careers”. Some of the organization’s work aims to train practitioners, in this case educators, to become scholars so that they can turn their observations into evidence-based scholarships that foster inclusion.

Dr. Lourdes Echegoyen described the BUILDING SCHOLARS program as a case study of the opportunities that contribute most to the success of University of Texas, El Paso (UTEP) students in STEM disciplines. BUILDING SCHOLARS is a prestigious, research-intensive, NIH-funded education program for students with a strong motivation to become researchers in the fields of biomedicine, social, behavioral, health sciences, or biomedical engineering. Among the characteristics that Dr. Echegoyen and her colleagues identified as most indicative of student success include: perseverance in study through graduation; Competitiveness in transition to the next career or training phase; and showed outstanding achievements in research and science.

The UTEP program has been successful in providing support and opportunity to a student population that is predominantly Hispanic, first generation college students, and financially disadvantaged. Dr. Echegoyen concluded with a thought-provoking quote from activist Vernā Myers on the importance of action-oriented inclusion: “Diversity is invited to the party. Inclusion is asked to dance. “

Dr. Michelle Claville of Hampton University presented an overview of NanoHU, a program developed at the historically black research university that engages students in the latest opportunities in nanoscience. According to the program’s website, “The interdisciplinary program offers all Hampton University students an opportunity to earn a minor in nanosciences in preparation for the country’s call for more inventive scientists and versatile engineers.”

The NanoHU model encompasses four key elements: education and training, research, professional development, and outreach and recruitment. The program has been successful in attracting students and faculties, producing research results and publications, securing research funding and bringing new talent to the university. Overall, NanoHU is successfully expanding participation and collaboration in nanoscientific MINT initiatives.

This ACS webinar brought together the chemistry education community, representing a national and international audience. More than 80% of the webinar attendees were affiliated with an academic institution, primarily as researchers, educators or administrators. The recording of the webinar is now available for free so community members can learn more about the important topic of creating an inclusive and resilient future in chemistry class. Slides of this presentation are also available from the webinar link.



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