Inclusive Excellence in STEM
David Asai, HHMI
Thursday, March 15, 2018
Excellence requires diversity. A diverse group of problem solvers is better positioned to find innovative solutions; the more difficult the problem, the greater the benefit of diversity in finding the solution. An organization committed to excellence encourages and enables a diverse community to seek creative strategies to solve difficult scientific problems.
Diversity can be measured in many ways, and there is no hierarchy of importance of these different personal identities. However, there are some dimensions of personal identity for which we are far from parity, and, by focusing on those dimensions, we can maximize the benefits that accrue from diversity. In our nation, an important dimension is race and ethnicity. Race matters.
Inclusion is the lever through which the full benefit of diversity can be realized. Strategies that address barriers to participation should not only increase the numbers of persons in science who belong to underrepresented groups, but also work to ensure that they are empowered and expected to succeed in science and assume leadership roles in the scientific community. The responsibility for creating an inclusive environment rests on the current leaders of the organization.
About the Speaker:
David Asai is Senior Director for Science Education at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He directs the HHMI Undergraduate and Graduate programs (http://www.hhmi.org/developing-scientists). Before moving to HHMI in 2008, David was on the faculty for 19 years at Purdue University where he was Head of Biological Sciences, and 5 years at Harvey Mudd College where he was Stuart Mudd Professor and Chair of Biology. Until 2010 when he closed his lab, David’s group studied the structure and functional diversity of dyneins in sea urchins and Tetrahymena thermophila. David served as a member of the boards of trustees of the National PTA and the Higher Learning Commission-North Central Association. He served on the BIO Advisory Committee (BIO-AC) of the National Science Foundation. He is an elected member of the Purdue Teaching Academy and was inducted into Purdue’s Book of Great Teachers. He is an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He serves on several advisory committees, including: the Interdisciplinary Teaching About Earth for a Sustainable Future (InTeGrate) NSF STEP center; the University of Delaware NSF ADVANCE Institutional Transformation project; the Minority Affairs Committee of the American Society for Cell Biology; the Understanding Interventions project; the Committee on Opportunities in Science (COOS) of the AAAS; Research Enhancement for BUILDing Detroit; and the NIH Advisory Committee of the Director’s Working Group on Diversity (ACD-WGD). David received the bachelor’s degree in chemistry and co-terminal master’s degree in biology from Stanford University, and the PhD in biology from Caltech.