RIT receives diversity and inclusion award from National Institutes of Health

Programs run by the College of Science and the National Technical Institute for the Deaf are recognized for the award

RIT has been announced as one of 10 National Institutes of Health (NIH) Institutional Excellence in Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) in Biomedical and Behavioral Research Prize Competition award winners.

The College of Science and the National Technical Institute for the Deaf receive recognition for the implementation of their Inclusive Excellence (IE) and Undergraduate Research Training Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (U-RISE) programs. The NIH will award RIT $100,000 to continue efforts to create cultures of inclusion and to enhance DEIA in the biomedical and behavioral research fields.

“We are incredibly honored to be among the 10 universities selected for this NIH award,” said Lea Michel, professor of Chemistry and Materials Science and director of diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives for the College of Science. “We are excited to use the prize money to continue to support our DEIA efforts, activities, and programs.”

Through its IE and U-RISE programs, RIT seeks to tackle systemic and cultural barriers hindering students with marginalized identities from completing degrees or accessing research opportunities. The programs aim to accomplish this goal through faculty/staff training, community engagement, policy changes, and student support.

The IE program, which was originally supported with a $1 million grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, aims to create lasting change in the College of Science while U-RISE addresses barriers to research faced by Deaf and hard-of-hearing students in the biomedical, biobehavioral, and clinical sciences. Actions already completed by the programs include creating two new positions focused on DEIA initiatives and creating and institutionalizing four new courses.

“We are very grateful for this award,” said Paul Craig, professor in the School of Chemistry and Materials Science and co-director of U-RISE. “We are already starting to plan how this will benefit our DEIA efforts with our Deaf and hard-of-hearing students in the U-RISE trainee program.”

The other 2024 NIH DEIA Prize Competition awardees are California State University San Marcos; Duke University; University at Buffalo; University of California, Davis; University of California, San Francisco; University of Florida; University of Illinois Chicago; University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras; and Vanderbilt University.

Each winner will present on its program and interventions during the NIH DEIA Prize Symposium, a virtual event, in June 2024. The NIH established the award as part of its UNITE Initiative, which focuses on promoting workforce diversity by changing policy, culture, and structure in all of its institutes and centers.