BMBB Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity (DEI) Committee

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The BMBB diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) committee fosters, and works to actively strengthen a culture that emphasizes mutual respect, inclusiveness, safety, and support. By promoting efforts to build an inclusive community in which all voices are heard, we aim to lead and collaborate on initiatives that will continuously enhance and improve our capabilities to educate and to advance science.


Community – Learn and practice community-building skills to help with the recruitment and retention of trainees from diverse cultures.

Education – Engage, educate, and empower the BMBB community members through seminars and workshops.

Outreach – Work with schools to provide opportunities for URM students to become involved in science in the department and at the University.

Policy v Work with the University community to propose, develop, and implement changes within and beyond the department.

Recruitment – Participate in recruitment efforts at all levels, undergraduate to faculty, to ensure inclusiveness and diversity.

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The BMBB DEI Committee was awarded three 2022 CBS DEIJ Micro Grants for the following projects:

  • Expansion of Grass-Roots Advancement of STEM Professions (GRASP) MN Program: The goal of this program is to build relationships to increase the recruitment and retention of underrepresented individuals in STEMM majors and to increase conversation around diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice within CBS to strengthen our community. In fall 2021, the Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biophysics DEI committee began a pilot program aimed to help first-generation, college-bound students at Heritage E-STEM Middle School in West St. Paul, described in a CBS blog post “Sparking Science Joy.” Thirty 8th grade students visited the UMN St. Paul campus for hands-on learning activities in four CBS research labs. This CBS microgrant allows us to expand the annual program to three additional middle schools with a high percentage of underrepresented students including Washington Technical Magnet School in St. Paul, to bring more students to UMN campus and expand the number of labs they can explore.
  • Mentorship, DEI, and science workshops in area high schools: This CBS service-learning course is designed to 1) teach undergraduate students skill sets for effective and inclusive mentorship; 2) connect high school students in underserved communities to resources that enable post-secondary education; and 3) encourage STEMM career paths for high school students, particularly those from underrepresented backgrounds. The class will culminate with undergraduate students directing on-site/hands-on biology experiments performed by the high school students in underserved areas. The engagement is designed to promote near-peer mentorship, making post-secondary education more attainable and accessible for underrepresented minorities.
  • Co-mentoring Community-building (CoCo Café): Our “Co-mentoring Community-building (CoCo Café)” aims to diversify voices throughout our systemic change process toward STEMM diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice (DEIJ). This community-based approach strives to broaden engagement, stakeholder buy-in, ownership, meaning, purpose, and to empower all voices. We bring those with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and opinions together by specifically recruiting undergraduate and graduate students who identify as having a marginalized voice. As we meet, CoCo Café participants recognize identities, personal narratives, and perspectives in meeting our needs in STEMM from an antiracist and cultural wellness approach. This process develops common understandings of deeper levels of historical culture and peoplehood away from dominant institutional constructs. These dialogues are the glue holding us together through change and evolving mindsets to address antiracism and inform leadership design teams in DEIJ.

The BMBB DEI committee held its first outreach event in November 2021, and you can read more about it here! A big 'thank you' to BMBB DEI committee member Kelly Aukema for spearheading this event!

Through the 2020-2021 academic year, the BMBB DEI Committee:

  • Established an "Enhancing our Culture" monthly seminar series, which augments our existing departmental seminar series by broadening the spectrum of speakers and topics discussed and creating opportunities for additional learning and growth.
  • Contributed to student recruitment by sending welcome "UMN spirit" packages to candidates in advance of visiting the UMN campus.
  • Helped mandate inclusion of DEI contributions in annual reports of faculty.
  • Created an "Our Life, Our Sciences" video series to share stories about current members of the biochemistry community.
  • Organized visit to Heritage Middle School (Oct. 8) -> Engage with students to explain a little bit about us (students, faculty, researchers) at different points in our careers and opportunities at the U of M. For example, Lillehei's Heart Institute Summer Research Scholar Program.
  • Began to establish relationships aimed at outreach to local communities for undergraduate and graduate recruitment and future partnerships.