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, 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 promoting equal opportunities.
Graduate Student, Guttman lab
Prashant has demonstrated a strong commitment to advocating for diversity, equity, and inclusion at Caltech, the wider community and in STEM. Prashant is a member and former co-lead of the Caltech LGBTQIA+ student organization PRISM. He has developed and implemented outreach and educational opportunities to challenge gender-biased discrimination, fight prejudice towards underrepresented students and create a community for marginalized students. He was a primary organizer and panelist supporting LGBTQIA+ identity-based programming through an inaugural public outreach program for prospective college students interested in STEM fields. He is a mentor to queer youth and by sharing his private experiences he is challenging our community to have conversations about intersectional identities, "coming out," and mental health support.
Chen Graduate Fellow, Rotating First Year
Thomas is actively improving diversity and inclusion at Caltech, in the wider community and STEM education. As the sole African American graduate student in the HSS PhD options Thomas promotes diversity through his everyday endeavors. He is a member of Caltech's Black Scientists and Engineers (BSEC) where he offers mentorship to undergraduate students who are interested in industry. He has been heavily involved in Caltech's Graduate Summer Research Institute (GSRI), program, a program designed to integrate underrepresented graduate students into the Caltech community. Thomas is also active in the wider Pasadena community where he is a mathematics tutor with the Young Legends program at the Caltech Y, teaching minority students. He is also gives financial literacy training to minority students, as well as discussing Neuroeconomics as a discipline to the Society for Black Brain and Behavioral Scientists.
Graduate Student, Gradinaru lab
Acacia is committed to promoting diversity, inclusion and equity within the Caltech Community, the wider community and STEM education. She is one of the cofounders of Women in BBE at Caltech, leading advocacy efforts to create sustainable institutional support for women and URM scientists. During the COVID campus closures, Acacia went out into the community with USC (where she is a medical student) to contribute to a series of COVID epidemiological studies. She joined researchers, hospital systems, LA county public health and industry to survey seroprevalence of SARS-CoV-2 infection in Los Angeles at large, and in public workers and underserved subpopulations. Additionally, Acacia has tutored with Schools on Wheels, providing STEM education to young people experiencing homelessness in Pasadena. She also created the list of learning resources on Japanese interment that CCID sends out every year on the anniversary of executive order 9066.
Graduate Student, Perona lab and Yue lab
Jennifer is a leader in building inclusive research and learning communities at Caltech and in STEM education. She is a co-organizer of the Healthy Collaboration Workshop, which provides a common resource for all students to receive guidance about navigating collaborations and thus providing a framework to raise all students' collaboration abilities to the levels of our most informed students. She is a TA Fellow that maintains an online resource that provides good TA practices. She is also a member of the Graduate Women in CMS steering committee, which is committed to creating a supportive and inclusive environment for women researchers. Jennifer has demonstrated a strong commitment to equity and inclusion. She is not only thoughtful in identifying what is most impactful to inclusion and equity, but she also follows through with hard work to implement those measures.