The University of Virginia Department of Chemistry Graduate Program is committed and devoted to fostering a diverse and inclusive culture and environment. The primary goal of our faculty is to educate and train the next generation of chemists of all races, ethnicities, religions, genders, ages, sexual orientations, socioeconomic backgrounds, and those with disabilities. To help achieve this goal, the faculty strives to provide an environment that is free of bias and is focused on promoting the development and growth of all individuals.
We aim to increase and retain diversity and inclusion in the Department of Chemistry by
- actively recruiting individuals from all backgrounds to our Department at the graduate, postdoctoral, faculty, and staff levels;
- maintaining a culture that welcomes the positive impact of, differences and similarities among people from varied backgrounds; and
- supporting individuals who self-identify as under-represented in chemistry by breaking down structural barriers to success.
This commitment to excellence in inclusion applies to our entire community, including but not limited to undergraduate students, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, research scientists, staff, and faculty. We recognize that our program is stronger and better positioned for growth when the members of our community reflect the composition and values of the larger population as a whole.
In just the past few years, we have implemented the following programs and changes to continue our efforts to promote a dynamic, inclusive, and collegial environment with equitable access to resources and programs for our graduate student cohort.
- Active recruitment of graduate students into UVA's Bridge to the Doctorate Program (https://graduate.as.virginia.edu/bridge-doctorate).
- Implementation of the faculty position Director of Graduate Recruiting for Diversity (Professor Marcos Pires).
- GRE requirement for graduate applications removed by a faculty vote.
- Developed and implemented new First Year Peer Mentor program.
- The Graduate Student Council, the Director of Graduate Studies and the Graduate Studies Committee developed a faculty-approved Statement of Mutual Expectations.
- Implementation and support of two new graduate student and postdoctoral DEI initiatives and positions: 1) DEI Project Leaders and 2) DEI Recruitment Leaders (https://chemistry.as.virginia.edu/diversity-equity-and-inclusion-initiatives).
- Two elected positions in the Chemistry Department Graduate Student Council: 1) The Director of Graduate Studies Ambassador and 2) the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Liaison. Graduate students in both of these positions communicate directly to the Director of Graduate Studies on various topics and issues of interest and importance to the broader graduate student population.
- A new graduate student led Career Seminar Series hosts guests to our department from a diverse range of careers and backgrounds to meet with graduate students and postdocs and to deliver presentations about their career paths.
- A new annual reporting process for Ph. D. students that features one-on-one discussion of their IDP (individual development plan), including career planning, with their advisor.
- New Faces in Chemistry, an international workshop for future faculty, held over Zoom, to enable competitive applications from prospective faculty members from diverse backgrounds.
- Director of Graduate Studies holds formal monthly meeting with officers of our Graduate Student Council.
- Director of Graduate Studies holds monthly informal social events with graduate students and postdocs.
- President of the Graduate Student Council is a formal member of the Chemistry Department's Graduate Studies Committee.
- Introduction of 4th year Seminars into the Ph. D. program to provide students with direct feedback from their faculty advisory committee members at this critical time in their studies
- Annual First-Generation Student Day event in the Chemistry Department for undergraduate and graduate students.
- Enhanced access for graduate students to external fellowship programs: a) Working with UVA's PhD Plus program, expenses are paid for graduate students to use an external program to assist with preparation of application materials for the NSF Graduate Research Fellowships Program; b) maintenance of a list of external fellowships, requirements and deadlines with access by all graduate students.
- Clarified and formalized faculty participation in the process for student preparation for candidacy exams in order to provide a balanced and equitable process for all graduate students.
- Multi-year overhaul of General Chemistry, for which our graduate students serve as teaching assistants, to an inclusive active learning format with impacts on support for students from underprivileged backgrounds.
Graduate students can get involved in departmental DEI efforts through several different pathways, including our two DEI initiatives, participation in the First Year Peer Mentor program, joining our Graduate Student Council, joining monthly graduate student and postdoc social events with the Director of Graduate Studies, participation in the graduate student led Career Seminar Series, joining one of several UVA-based DEI organizations or groups, etc.
UVA DEI resources:
- UVA Division for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
- Twitter: @UVADiversity
- DEI Learning Resources https://dei.virginia.edu/learning-resources
- UVA Graduate & Postdoctoral Diversity Programs: https://graddiversity.virginia.edu/
- Student Affinity Groups at UVA: https://graddiversity.virginia.edu/student-affinity-groups
- UVA College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion office – useful resources for teaching, among other things: http://as.virginia.edu/diversity-equity-and-inclusion
- Fee waivers for applications to our graduate program from the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs - Diversity Programs, for students who meet the eligibility requirements: https://graddiversity.virginia.edu/application-fee-waiver
National DEI resources:
Diversify Chemistry, a resource to highlight the diverse community of chemists.
What groups are historically underrepresented in STEM in the United States? The NIH provides one definition, which includes individuals from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, individuals with disabilities, and individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds (e.g., low socioeconomic status). Women from the above backgrounds and at the senior faculty level experience particular challenges. More information and resources can be found here: “Populations Underrepresented in the Extramural Scientific Workforce.”