Diversity and Inclusion

Diversity and Inclusion

The Program in Biology is committed to strengthening diversity and inclusion among our staff, students, and faculty. Our Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan (DIAP) is aligned with the University's overall set of concrete actions and available for download from Brown’s Office of Institutional Equity & Diversity.

Below are a few of the Biology DIAP activities of interest to our undergraduates.

Fostering Community

October is Biology Research Labs Open House Month - a time when faculty members open their labs to meet and welcome students. Lab open houses are a great opportunity for first and second year students to interact with faculty outside of the classroom, see the inner-workings of labs, and meet older students working on independent study and thesis projects.

Biology’s Peer-Advising Program was recently launched to foster a stronger sense of community among our students. Peer advising offers first and second year students a way to broaden their mentor network, and provides juniors and seniors a way to give back. 

Hidden Curriculum Lunches - During spring semester Dean Smith hosts informal lunches to talk with students about the unwritten, unofficial, and often unintended lessons college has to offer. Topics include Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, managing stress in STEM, first gen college experiences, grit & resilience, and more.

Diversity in the Curriculum

The Program in Biology offers 15 courses that address issues of diversity including race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability status, inequality, and other related areas of inquiry as relevant to topics and careers in the biological sciences. These courses are designated with DIV on our course offerings page

Living Biology at Brown and Beyond (BIOL 0100) is a new first-year seminar for historically underrepresented students taught by Dean Smith. LivBio has three goals: 1) introduce students to the people, projects, and opportunities in Biology at Brown, 2) foster and cultivate student STEM identities and interests, 3) arm students with personal, professional and academic skills to help them succeed in Biology at Brown (and beyond). Students will visit faculty research labs, learn novel lab skills, engage in active research talks from Professors, read and discuss timely books like ‘The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks’, and more.

Precision Medicine or Privileged Medicine: Addressing Disparities in Biomedical Research (BIOL 0940E) is a new DIAP sophomore seminar that examines the biomedical research behind precision medicine, disparities in the inclusiveness of this research, and implications of these disparities for the relevance of precision medicine innovations for people and places in Rhode Island. Professor Campbell teaches this course where students focus on these four questions: What new knowledge is making precision medicine possible? Who has been the focus of the biomedical research generating this knowledge, and why? How might inclusiveness of this research impact healthcare disparities in Rhode Island? What is needed to improve the design and outcomes of precision medicine research so that it provides benefits and mitigates harms for all?

Brown recently launched a new Research Course branch of the Brown Learning Collaborative, a collaboration between the Sheridan Center and the HHMI funded initiative, "Innovation in Gateway STEM Courses". The goal is to develop a series of programs for faculty, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows that will support development of Course-Based Undergraduate Research Experiences (often called "CUREs") in STEM and the social sciences. These are Biology's newest CURE courses:

BIOL 0285: Inquiry in Biochemistry: From Gene to Protein Function
BIOL 1555: Methods in Biomedical Informatics

Brown – HHMI Gateway STEM Course Initiative - The goal of this program is to use well established teaching methods that broaden participation and increase retention in science, technology, engineering and math disciplines. The HHMI award has helped us renovate our teaching space to support student centered learning, develop new inquiry based courses, and train our faculty in inclusive teaching.