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Underrepresented, Pointing Toward Success

The Dialogue in Action Forum, hosted by BCAMP, will be held on Friday from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. in the Campus Center Ballroom. (Graphic courtesy of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion)

ALBANY, N.Y. (Dec. 6, 2017) — A nationally renown biologist, whose work pioneered the understanding of how mammals adapt to their marine environments, will be the keynote speaker at the first diversity and inclusion forum hosted by BCAMP — a newly-organized UAlbany STEM consortium.

Phyllis Robinson will open the BCAMP’s Dialogue in Action Forum, which will be held this Friday from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. in the Campus Center Ballroom. The forum, open to all University faculty and staff, is entitled, “Best Practices in Cultivating Success for Unrepresented Populations Pursuing Degrees in Higher Education: Approaches for STEM and Non-STEM Areas.”

Robinson, a professor of biological sciences at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) co-founded that university’s Women in Science and Engineering group and co-chairs its executive committee on Gender and Diversity in Science.

Phyllis Robinson
Speaking at the forum will be UMBC biologist Phyllis Robinson, co-founder of Women in Science and Engineering.

The forum is being hosted by BCAMP and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. BCAMP, which includes the departments of Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, Mathematics and Statistics, and Physics, worked with the ODI to tackle the global issue of increasing the number and participation of underrepresented groups, particularly women and minorities, in the sciences.

“Getting STEM students to UAlbany, keeping them in the department and graduating on time is a global issue; and that, combined with finding underrepresented faculty and staff, is a challenge,” said Tamra Minor, UAlbany’s chief diversity officer. “We are always looking for creative ways to overcome these challenges.”

Robinson and a team from UMBC have worked to develop some innovative methods to increase diversity and inclusion and are having success, according to Minor. “We are excited to hear her discuss their work, anxious to see what we can learn and anticipating how that insight might be implemented at UAlbany,” she said.

After Robinson’s presentation, BCAMP will host a series of hour-long roundtable discussions, beginning at 11:15 a.m., allowing each department to delve further into some of her recommendations and suggestions and consider how they might increase diversity and inclusion in their individual departments. Robinson will participate in those departmental conversations.

BCAMP was organized earlier this semester, and each participating department chair, working with ODI Assistant Director Patrick Jean-Pierre, is examining methods to increase diversity and inclusion. In addition to the forum, BCAMP departments have established a Diversity and Inclusion Climate Committee to analyze data on diversity and inclusion, develop recruitment and retention strategies and establish protocols to ensure an inclusive environment.

Christopher Thorncroft, professor and chair of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, said his department is excited about the opportunity to meet with colleagues, share and learn.

“We’re also excited to learn new ways to increase the diversity in the department so we are better equipped to tackle some of the most challenging and inherently interdisciplinary problems that we are facing in the 21st century.”

To register for Friday’s forum, email odievents@albany.edu.

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