A welcoming and inclusive environment is at the heart of a successful student experience. Our Inclusive Excellence initiative works towards creating a diverse and inclusive community full of discussion, peer collaboration, and meaningful interactions for everyone.
Inclusive Excellence Initiative
The Inclusive Excellence activities were primarily funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute between 2017 and 2022, with a $1 million Inclusive Excellence award granted to a faculty team in the College of Science. The project began with the understanding that RIT’s increasingly diverse students deserve an environment in which all are valued and supported. Each student, regardless of race, gender, sexuality, or other identities, brings unique perspectives and strengths that improve our classrooms, research laboratories, and community. Our goal is to support faculty, staff, and students in creating and maintaining an inclusive atmosphere in our College.
Inclusive Excellence seeks applications from students with marginalized identities for our Inclusive Excellence Undergraduate Research Fellowship. We are committed to working with student affinity groups to support community-building programs within the College of Science. For example, Inclusive Excellence collaborates with the LGBTQ+ Inclusivity in Science (COSLISC) club to support and advertise their series, QueerSci Talks. Additionally, we intend to support the reinvigoration of the group COS AALANA and are currently seeking students and faculty leaders to that end. If students are interested in joining COS AALANA or want to seek support for their group, contact Jacquie Ludwig.
Staff members in the College of Science are invited to join our Inclusive Practices cohorts, which focus on inclusive research and teaching, as well as our smaller learning communities, book clubs, and all of our events. Additionally, we are developing a series of workshops on allyship that will be exclusive to staff members. This will give us space to focus on questions and issues related to the many roles of staff in the College and to center staff experiences within our discussions.
Our most intensive faculty engagement is through the Inclusive Practices cohorts, learning communities focusing on inclusive research and teaching practices. These cohorts take place over the course of an academic year and involve approximately 10-14 workshops.We will introduce new DEI-focused learning communities, a book club, and a series of allyship workshops for staff.
Summer Research Experience
The Inclusive Excellence Summer Research Fellowship offers College of Science students (including transfer students) an opportunity to research with a faculty mentor in their first year at RIT. Preference is given to students from nontraditional and underrepresented groups to broaden the research experience with a diversity of cultures, experiences, and ways of thinking.
Our students are paired with a faculty research mentor from our Inclusive Excellence cohort and are expected to work full-time in their mentor's research group (approximately 40 hours/week) over the summer for about ten (10) weeks. Students will receive a stipend of $4,500.
The 2023 Inclusive Excellence Summer Research Fellowship is now open!
Our research mentors in the College of Science work closely with students as they complete a research project over ten weeks during the summer. These faculty members are part of our Inclusive Practices cohorts and have focused on developing inclusive and culturally competent approaches to research and mentoring.
Statistical Methods Research
The statistical methods project will involve a structured review of methodological approaches in the literature that are used to characterize, measure, and estimate the extent of sociodemographic disparities in healthcare utilization. The project will involve database queries, synthesis, and critical analysis to understand and highlight methodological approaches and gaps in methodologies used to empirically estimate disparities along sociodemographic factors such as race, ethnicity, sex, or income in healthcare utilization, and trends. The student should understand regression analysis; all work can be performed virtually via Zoom. Regular, in-person meetings are optional.
Statistics, Education, Proteomics
Two projects are available: a statistics study of education and diversity and a probability theory and applications project. The statistics education/diversity study will involve analyzing survey data with the goal of investigating factors related to the retention and persistence of African American, Latino American, and Native American (AALANA) students in mathematical sciences. The probability theory and applications project will involve modeling proteomics (study of proteins) data using probability distributions. For both projects, statistical inference and familiarity with R programming language or any other programming experience are required for data analysis. Most work for both projects will be virtual with Zoom meetings, although in-person meetings are also possible.
In the biomedical mathematics project, we will use computational models to simulate the electrical wave behavior of heart cells. We will complete a comparative analysis of different strategies for suppressing abnormal cardiac rhythms. Another option for a summer project will be to compare the effectiveness of data assimilation strategies for estimating the values of unmeasured cardiac variables. Advisees should have experience with at least one programming language and have completed first-year calculus classes. All meetings can be held virtually over Zoom, though meeting in person or having a mixture of in-person and online meetings are also options.
Microbiology, Proteomics, Bioinformatics
The research project will explore the roles of protein glycosylation in bacteria and can be either computational (virtual or in-person) or focused on bench work (in-person only). In the computational project, publicly available proteomic datasets for pathogenic bacteria will be analyzed, and previous experience with Python programming would be beneficial. The microbiology bench work project will focus on the cell biological analysis of Pseudomonas aeruginosa with regard to biofilm formation or antibiotic resistance, and experience with sterile working techniques would be preferred.
Chemical and Statistical Physics
Many neurodegenerative diseases seem to be caused in part by changes to the conditions for phase transitions in aqueous mixtures of nucleic acids and intrinsically disordered peptides within cells. In one of the projects in Dr. Thurston’s laboratory, we are characterizing model systems for studying such phase transitions with the aim of deepening our understanding of the molecular basis of these relevant transitions. This in-person project will involve experimental investigation using light scattering and other techniques applied to the phase transitions of simplified model systems that permit rigorous analysis. No prior experience in a laboratory is required.
Biochemistry, Proteins and Nucleic Acids, Structural Biology, X-ray Crystallography
The Gleghorn lab researches structures and interactions of proteins, nucleic acids, and complexes using various techniques. We are interested in unusual nucleic acid helical structures and their formation, particularly those that form at low pH. Additionally, our lab studies proteins from pathogenic bacteria. Projects in this lab will be in-person and consist primarily of bench work. No prior research experience is required.
In June 2017, the College of Science faculty, staff, and students launched a five-year plan to foster a more inclusive environment across the College. Funded by a $1M grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), the Inclusive Excellence initiative supported improving inclusion in the College through workshops, faculty cohorts, community-building events, and student fellowships. During the life of the grant, we funded 43 students to complete summer research under COS mentors. As of Fall 2022, we are proud to share that approximately 70% of the Biology, Physics, and Chemistry faculty have participated in one or more of our Inclusive Excellence cohorts.
In 2022, as part of our ongoing efforts to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), support and oversight of the Inclusive Excellence program shifted to the Dean’s Office to ensure the longevity of the IE initiatives beyond the HHMI grant period. Our recent efforts include the continuation of our Inclusive Practices cohorts. We are partnering with student groups to support community-building activities and expanding our bias training to faculty on and off search committees for all academic units in the College hiring new faculty.