The following is the department statement on diversity and inclusion. It was distributed by Jane Grande-Allen, Ph.D. on July 16, 2019 via email to the Rice Bioengineering community.
Dear Rice Bioengineering Community,
When the university announced the Rice Investment, we took “talent deserves opportunity” as a call to action. We reflected on how we, as a department, have been creating and sustaining an environment of diverse scholars. While we have always shared in the commitment to diversity and inclusiveness resolved by Rice University trustees, faculty governance and administration, we realized that we could further align our departmental policies to underscore this commitment even more.
The field of bioengineering is—at its very core—interdisciplinary, collaborative and translational. As we collectively strive to find solutions to critical challenges in the field, it is only to our benefit as scientists to draw from and celebrate the diverse experiences, discoveries and innovations of our community. So, we have been taking several important steps to not only further support, but also to grow, this diverse environment. We will initially focus on racial and ethnic representation, but we recognize that truly diverse environments encompass a broader scope of identities that we plan to discuss and consider.
We are continuing to expand our graduate recruiting activities to engage with underrepresented minority students who are interested in graduate school, including pipeline partnerships, and we are considering graduate applications from a holistic perspective. Additionally, we are participating in university-facilitated faculty search committee training to increase our potential to hire new faculty members from a broad pool of qualified, diverse applicants.
In keeping with our plans, we will add the following initiatives to our ongoing efforts this academic year:
Establishing a faculty-student committee on diversity and inclusion.
Formalizing a range of academic and social activities and departmental support structures to promote inclusion.
The message concluded with an invitation for students, faculty and staff to apply to be a member of the department’s inaugural diversity and inclusion committee.
Rice Bioengineering Diversity & Inclusion Initiative
The Diversity & Inclusion Committee meets every monthly during the academic year. The advisory board convenes once a semester.
2019-20 Committee Members
Caleb Bashor, Ph.D., faculty
Jason Dennis, undergraduate
Jane Grande-Allen, Ph.D., faculty & chair
Kathryn Kundrod, Ph.D. student
Kevin McHugh, Ph.D., faculty
Tony Mikos, Ph.D., faculty
Trenton Piepergerdes, Ph.D. student
Renata Ramos, Ph.D., faculty
Laura Segatori, Ph.D., faculty (spring only)
Christi Vasquez ‘13, department staff
Brenda Venegas, undergraduate
2019-20 Advisory Board
Katie Brown, Ph.D. student
Maryam Elizondo ‘19, research scientist
David Ikejiani, undergraduate
Gerry Koons, Ph.D. student
Lily Liang, undergraduate
Hannah Pearce, Ph.D. student
Rithika Proddutoor, undergraduate
Tate Shannon, undergraduate
Melody Tan, Ph.D. student
Diversity & Inclusion Resources at Rice
The Department of Bioengineering is committed to advancing the frontiers of our field, and performing our research and educational mission, in accordance with the highest standards of ethical conduct. This is particularly evident in the training of our students. All bioengineering graduate students are required to take a core course in the Responsible Conduct of Research during their first year. This is a face-to-face course that involves lectures as well as online assessment through the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI). Topics covered throughout this required work included ethical issues regarding the use of human and animal subjects and tissues, record-keeping, publications, authorship, conflicts of interest, and proper conduct within the scientific and research community.
In addition to this training as part of our graduate curriculum, graduate students’ mentors hold regular lab meetings that include training in the proper conduct of research and discussion when ethical issues occur within the lab. The mentors also meet with graduate students one-on-one or in small groups on a regular basis to discuss the details of their research work. These discussions include proper experimental techniques, record-keeping, and mentoring regarding interactions with collaborators, fellow graduate students, other professors, and undergraduates. This has included guidance on how best to mentor undergraduate research assistants including training them in these techniques to make sure that the highest standard of research conduct is maintained throughout the lab.
As part of our accreditation by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), all undergraduate students majoring in Bioengineering have ethics as part of their curriculum. This inclusion meets the ABET requirements for student outcome #4a, namely that students “demonstrate an understanding of their ethical and professional responsibilities as engineers.” In the Bioengineering curriculum, ethics are a component of core courses in BIOE 252 (Bioengineering Fundamentals), BIOE 330 (Bioreactions Engineering), BIOE 370 (Biomaterials), and BIOE 452 (Capstone Design II), and ethics are featured in several elective courses. Undergraduate students who participate in independent research projects are also required to receive training in ethical principles that are relevant to that research (i.e., working with animals or human subjects) and to obtain certification through in-person instruction and CITI.