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Chen Institute Diversity and Inclusion Awards 2020

The Chen Institute is delighted to announce the recipients of this year's Chen Institute Diversity and Inclusion Awards. These awards, for graduate students and postdoctoral scholars in neuroscience at Caltech, are intended to recognize active individuals for the uncompensated time and effort they are dedicating to achieve diversity and inclusion at Caltech, and/or the wider community and in STEM education. Each recipient is highly deserving of this award, they are all committed leaders bringing awareness to diversity and inclusion, and promote equal opportunities for all in the Caltech community. To learn more about this award and the review process, click here.

Chen Institute Diversity and Inclusion 2020 Awardees


Headshot Dawna Bagherian

Dawna Bagherian
Graduate Student, Neurobiology, Meister lab
Dawna is widely recognized as a leader in the Caltech community. She has served as Graduate Student Council (GSC) Diversity Chair in 2017-18, and as GSC Vice Chair in 2018-19. She is also one of the founders of Chen Institute Women in Neuroscience. She has been an advocate for many and has been instrumental in educating the Caltech community about the affects the current graduate healthcare program is having on its more vulnerable members. As stated in her nomination "Dawna is a tireless advocate for the most underprivileged at Caltech".


Headshot Livia Hecke-Morais

Livia Hecke-Morais
Postdoctoral Scholar, Mazmanian lab
Livia is the founder of the Caltech Postdoc Association (CPA) diversity committee, which brings together 7 postdocs every month to work on diversity initiatives on campus. She currently serves as the organization's Diversity chair. She is also a member of the Chen Women in Neuroscience, Women Engagement Board, Caltech Center for Inclusion and Diversity (CCID) LGBTQ working group and is a 2CCID Diversity & Inclusion Ambassador.  She is particularly dedicated to bringing awareness to the issues the LGBTQA+ community face with their identities in the workspace. She has invested a great deal of time to foster a sense of community and belonging to LGBTQA+ postdocs and students in the workspace and broader Caltech community.

Headshot Sarah Sam

Sarah Sam
Graduate Student, Neurobiology, Meister lab
Sarah received multiple nominations for this award. She is president of the Black Scientists and Engineers at Caltech (BSEC) and president of the Black Ladies Association of Caltech (BLAC). She spends much of her limited 'free' time working for these organizations and volunteering as a tutor, as well as providing 'STEMonstrations' to high school students. She has demonstrated great leadership by taking a lead role in the recent institute Black Lives Matter town halls and has been an inspiration to many people to bring change and action to race inequalities at Caltech. As one of her nominations stated "The Chen Institute would be hard pressed to find another graduate student in all of Caltech, let alone the neuroscience community, more deserving of this award than Sarah Sam".