Faculty, Trainee & Staff Statements & Involvement in DEI Work

Faculty, Trainee & Staff Active in DEI Work

My general philosophy is that only you are responsible for your own actions, and that you have the most impact on those around you. We all have the opportunity to model the behavior we want to see – in our homes, labs, departments, and communities. I think this is a complementary approach to broader institutional and cultural change, as we all should acknowledge how we fit into or benefit from these institutions. Especially for those with privilege, DEI shouldn’t be a facet of our lives that we address in times of acute crisis, but something that permeates our daily thoughts and decisions. I know that, like with scientific research, DEI work requires you to be a life-long learner, and I will continue to educate myself and those around me, so we can strive to do better.   

My approach to DEI work begins with the acknowledgement that it requires learning, reflecting, and acting and that all three are necessary for authenticity in one’s actions. I believe that all interactions, including effective mentorship, begin with advocating for an environment of open communication and mutual respect. As PI of a lab and elsewhere, it is important for me to act in ways that promote respect, empathy, and an inclusive and equitable environment where all individuals can thrive. Continued learning and reflection is required to help me achieve authenticity in my actions.

  • BEHN Diversity Committee member (July 2020 - January 2023)
  • Co-directed course “Promoting Anti-Racism in Higher Education” (Winter 2021)
  • Attended “Provost’s lecture featuring Ibram X. Kendi: A Conversation About How to be an Anti-Racist” (April 2021)
  • Completed “Anti-Racism for White People” Program (Spring 2022)
  • Attended “Lunch & Learn: Creating Equity Every Day” (August 2022)
  • Completed “OHSU Mentorship Academy” (April 2021)

My philosophy for DEI work is facilitating collaborative discussion from people across different racial, idealistic, developmental, and personal backgrounds to make us think outside of ourselves and learn and reflect on the experiences and needs of other people. Creating an open and respectful environment that can accept we have things to learn and improve on is critical to building a supportive and inclusive community.

  • BEHN Diversity Committee Member (Since 2021)
  • Alliance for Visible Diversity in Science Operations Committee (Since 2020)
  • Safer Space for BLM tech team
  • Completed “Promoting Anti-Racism in Higher Education” Course

In regards to specific written DEI work, I have not actively involved in a DEI committee. I always question my value of belonging, especially as a white woman. While I do think of myself overall as valuable, I always worry whether adding another white voice to the mix is what is needed. However, I was a volunteer mentor for the Bridge to PhD program, which works to place Latinx students in a lab for a summer internship to gain lab experience. I also chose sociology as a minor to explicitly discuss systemic issues, including a class on race and ethnicity in the United States. The sociology minor was for my own knowledge and personal benefit because I wanted to “be better”. DEI initiatives + policies: Mandatory class on racism in science (discussion above). DEI trainings for onboarding and yearly courses. I hope it to be implemented in lab meetings, maybe do a seminar talk every 3ish months with exercises. I chose this program partially because of the emphasis on DEI. I still think OHSU needs to be better, but having conversations about systemic change is a place to start.

As a physician-scientist, I wear two hats: One as a sleep neurologist training future medical professionals and treating patients, and the other as a Principal Investigator and leader of a large research program (SHARP) comprised of students, postdocs, junior faculty and research assistants. The civil unrest sparked by George Floyd’s murder in 2020, played out again and again countless times since then, has catalyzed a cultural transformation in the way I live and lead. I am confronting the racism that has pervaded every aspect of my life since the day I was born to first generation immigrants in the United States – the racism that I taught myself to ignore for half a century in order to fit in, which then made me even more complicit in the system. I went through, and am still going through, a painful, introspective process, while also simultaneously baring my soul publicly to my trainees, mentees, colleagues, patients - the many intersecting circles from both of my hats. Change requires first leaning in, but also eventually concrete solutions. Oftentimes these concrete solutions, while practical, are still only incremental and therefore painful to support. Is this enough? Is it enough to do better than nothing? Sometimes leaning in may even make things worse - I wrestle with this too (see the book Nice Racism, by Robin DiAngelo). I still hope I can make things better, and that is why I decided to Co-Chair the BEHN DEI Committee (2022-2024).

As a Latina in science, I believe increasing representation of historically underserved groups is indispensable. I am committed to the ongoing process of achieving an equitable and inclusive environment in and out of academia. My approach is to practice active listening, amplify voices, and create space for future generations to find their own.

  • OHSU BEH Diversity Committee Member (Since July 2021)
  • University of Michigan Neuroscience Institute DEI Committee Member (Fall 2017-2020)
  • University of Michigan SACNAS Chapter Board Member (Fall 2017-2019)

As a queer, trans and sober person on the autism spectrum, I think that surviving is an act of hope and I think that the desire to be a meaningful part of community is our greatest asset. I think all perspectives are needed for science to be vital and alive and reach its aims, and we need to support each other. I hope that by being open about my experiences and connecting with others over work I love, I can help build a community that serves us all.

As a Latino (Portuguese-speaking Brazilian) neuroscience researcher, I believe that strong diversity in science is critical not only to address the historical biases and lack of fairness in the selection and support for underserved minorities in research, but also to increase diverse and creative thinking in science. Open communication and respect for divergent opinions is critical to foster a diverse and vibrant research community that is better prepared to engage in productive research activities, while also identifying and preventing sources of discriminatory behavior and bias.

  • Helped to create the BEHN Diversity Committee in 2020
  • Member of the BEHN Diversity Committee since 2021
  • Member of the AVDS faculty committee 
  • Attended the “Promoting Anti-Racism in Higher Education” course, Winter 2021
  • Member of the Anti-Racism Community of Learning

Providing space and opportunity for all to contribute will enable a better connection with those around you and certainly better science. Historically, a certain mold of a “scientists” or a “physician” existed, but we have to all realize now that there is no mold that can encompass the diversity around us – we should cherish this experience. On changes to improve DEI in daily life: Approaching every interaction or relationship with “beginners mind” – not assuming the life experience or knowledge base of this other person, but rather, listening and learning about what their world.

In my view, diversity and inclusion in the lab and classroom are critical. It defines who we are, whether or not we are really open and inviting as an environment or not, and also affects the quality of the research and education. It is obvious that the easiest way to be open and inviting is to assume that we continue to nurture our environment towards this goal and allows discussions about individual unique experiences as they relate to diversity and inclusion. Also, it remains critical to not only assume that everyone feels comfortable in our OHSU and Portland environment but also assume that in case a negative incident happened that it is quickly and efficiently addressed in a positive fashion.

My strategy for DEI work is typically to create spaces for others to feel safe and comfortable discussing problems and potential solutions. In the past I typically avoided leadership roles in DEI, feeling my lack of experience and formal education made me a poor choice for a very critical role. However, in recent years it’s become clear that verbal affirmations and more passive support is insufficient. So, going forward I am trying to dedicate myself to more direct action and participation. I hope to focus my future DEI work on motivating my peers and community to do the same.

  • BEHN Diversity Committee member (since Spring 2022)
  • Attended course “Promoting Anti-Racism in Higher Education” (Winter 2021)
  • Member of AVDS operation committee (since Summer 2020)
  • Completed course: Reading Prose Fiction: Margins and Centers: Who's In, Who's Out, & Why that matters for all of us (Autumn 2015, UW)