College of Chemistry receives award to grow graduate diversity

October 2, 2020

diversity, equity and inclusion

For immediate release 

The College of Chemistry was recently awarded one of nine four-year grants from the UC Berkeley Graduate Diversity Pilot program. The program was established in July 2020 as one of a series of campus initiatives directed toward combating racism and fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).

Chancellor Carol Christ stated in an open letter to the campus in 2019, “While a number of existing programs and services help to support diversity and inclusion among graduate students, we need to develop and implement a truly comprehensive, coordinated, campus-wide strategy.”

The nine awardee departments will be using the funds to leverage existing internal DEI efforts and add new ones based on internal climate surveys and audits, best practices from other programs, and recommendations proposed by the Graduate Diversity Task Force.

A significant portion of the funds are targeted for direct student support in the form of stipends, fee waivers, grants, paid internships and graduate student hiring, and fellowships.

The College’s departments of Chemistry and Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering (CBE), have large, vibrant graduate student communities. Our graduate students are actively involved in building community among faculty, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers, supporting the success of undergraduate students within the College, and reaching out to inspire K-12 students in the chemical sciences in Berkeley, Oakland, and adjoining areas.

The College recognizes that marginalized groups have historically been disenfranchised from full participation in STEM education, and that our mission, to “advance society through education and research,” is, therefore, compromised. Diversity, equity, and inclusion are becoming increasingly important to our graduate students.

The College plans to build on a foundation laid down by the departments and a series of graduate student programs that have been established in the last several years to grow the College’s diversity program. The College wants to foster a more visible, valued, and broad community working on coordinated projects to advance diversity in STEM fields at all levels. We envision that graduate student participants will carry forward their expertise in DE&I to advocate for change in future STEM leadership positions across academia and industry.

Matthew Francis, Chair of the Department of Chemistry noted “We are very proud and supportive of the key role our graduate students have played in advancing diversity in our department. They are already highly involved in outreach, education, and mentoring activities, but to date these efforts have been underrecognized. This program formally acknowledges their genuine and dedicated engagements in diversity efforts, and it will help us to support and coordinate their activities for maximum impact. We also hope this new program will inspire even greater participation and spark entirely new efforts.”

Program Description

The graduate students in Chemistry and CBE have become full partners with the faculty in improving the climate of the College and expanding the pipeline into the College. However, these efforts are not ideally coordinated or recognized throughout the College. We plan to build a formal and visible structure to support, guide, and recognize graduate students who work in this area. This grant will assist in that effort.

The pilot grant funds will be used to:

  1. Create the College of Chemistry Graduate Diversity Program for cohorts of graduate students interested in contributing significantly to improving DE&I within the College.
  2. Award a one-year DE&I fellowship to a graduate student each year wishing to gain significant expertise in DE&I program development and assessment.

Anne Baranger, Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion commented, “We are excited to support graduate students and work in partnership to increase diversity, build equity, and support inclusion in the College of Chemistry community at all levels.  This program will provide much deserved recognition and financial support to graduate students already working to develop and carry out innovative programs and will inspire new graduate students to build expertise and join in this work.”

 Jeffrey Reimer, Chair of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering said of the funding plan, “We are fully committed to the principles of diversity and inclusion. We believe that fostering our graduate students is essential to the strengthening of the American scientific workforce and thereby growing innovation and creativity in the chemical sciences. Many of our graduate students have the talent for, and conviction to, contribute to diversifying our student population. This new program will provide both financial support and coordinated activities aimed at improving the College’s climate to grow that diversity.”

For further information about this grant and other diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives at the College of Chemistry, contact: Anne Baranger, Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. (