First, I want to congratulate Dr. Mike Goldman
for winning the Strategic Planning Council (SPC) faculty election this cycle; he will continue to serve CSUPERB in this capacity. Thank you, Mike!
Over the past month, I have continued to monitor the science updates and policy decisions around COVID-19. We conducted a survey for CSUPERB-funded faculty and students to understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on research-related activities and issues of equity. Many faculty, throughout the CSU, are waiting for processes to be developed before returning to their in-person research activities. Faculty also forecast many needs in order to return to research, while they are also concerned for their students wellbeing and continued engagement:
“My first generation students are more stranded by this experience. Their families do not understand their academic lives. They are sometimes doubtful of their academic pursuits. These students rely heavily on the CULTURE of my lab, not just the content. They have friends and a support network that helps them normalize their goals in academia. When they are surrounded in only people who don’t understand their goals, I am worried it is slowly pushing them out of academia in the long run.”
The goal of this survey was to identify new support programming and help ascertain potential needs. Based on our findings, this week a new CSUPERB COVID-19 online community met. Faculty from all over the state shared their campus updates. We are making short-term plans as well as organizing the development of new resources for fall and beyond. More to come, stay tuned. If you are interested in joining this group, please email me (email@example.com). In the meantime, if you are contemplating different ways to engage students, please consider identifying a team from your campus, including student(s), and applying to participate in the CSU I-Corps August Summer Sprint
. Applications are due by next Wednesday, July 1, 2020 at 5:00pm PST.
It has been great getting to know the CSUPERB staff over the past few months. We are fortunate that for this newsletter we have a special contributor, Christine Montgomery. Christine is an example of how we can enrich the CSUPERB community in many different ways, specifically through her educational experience, expertise and passion.
Contributed by Christine Montgomery, CSUPERB Student Programs Specialist, MS in Criminal Justice/Criminology from SDSU.
Over the past month, we have been flooded with images of the deaths of fellow black Americans at the hands of the police. No doubt, we are living in two major crises - the COVID-19 pandemic and racism. We witnessed history as millions of Americans united across all 50 states to protest the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. The world has been united in its response with countries such as Germany, the Netherlands, Britain and Canada all showing their solidarity in support of black lives. In addition, 54 African countries signed a letter asking the United Nations to inquire about police brutality in America. Numerous corporations have put out statements and contributed millions to non-profit, anti-racist organizations to show their commitment to making black lives matter. In our own backyard, STEM researchers organized a strike for black lives on June 10 using #ShutDownStem and #ShutDownAcademia to take time to amplify black voices and call for STEM organizations to create plans to eradicate racism. This is truly history in the making.
Where does CSUPERB fit in? As an affinity group within the CSU system, CSUPERB has a history of engaging students of all races, genders and creeds in biotechnology research and workforce preparation. When students from underrepresented backgrounds persist in STEM degrees, graduate and enter the biotechnology workforce, it diminishes the equity gaps that are one of the chief consequences of racism and oppression. CSUPERB also supports numerous faculty with programs that help them work more successfully with our diverse population of CSU students, but we can do more.
As we reflect on our commitment to eradicate racism, we have decided to create formalized programming to support this commitment. For the first step, CSUPERB will host a webinar titled, “How to be an Anti-Racist Scientist” with myself as the moderator. I received my M.S. in Criminal Justice/Criminology from SDSU and have conducted research on implicit bias in San Diego police officers. As we plan out the next academic year, we will provide educational programming through webinars, and other means throughout the year, using scientific data to provide context to the racial inequality in America. In addition, we will provide resources to equip PI’s, mentors and students to better navigate this topic. We will be a place of safety where those affected by racism can speak openly and heal. The biotechnology community is not immune from racism; we have much work to do.
Our first webinar, “How to be an Anti-Racist Scientist” will be on July 15, at 10:00 am.
As we look forward to the 4th of July and enjoy our country’s celebration of independence, there is another celebration of freedom in America that recently passed – Juneteenth. Although slavery was outlawed in 1863 by the Emancipation Proclamation, there was great resistance to freeing enslaved people. It wasn’t until two years later on June 19th, 1865 in Galveston, Texas that General Granger and his regiment arrived to bring the news of freedom. With the surrender of General Lee earlier in April, General Granger and his troops were strong enough to enforce the Executive Order. As a result, many African-Americans celebrate Juneteenth as American’s second Independence Day! Let’s remember both holidays in our hearts as we celebrate our country’s independence. Happy belated Juneteenth and Happy 4th of July!
What we are reading and watching:
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
Being Antiracist - Smithsonian - National Museum of African American History & Culture