We are all diverse – my philosophy
My education journey is the inspiration of how I want to contribute as a Faculty. I was educated in very different cultures, geographies, languages, and scientific systems: Argentina, Germany, and USA. I further had the privilege to participate in specific international courses in Brazil (cell biology), Italy (RNA), and Switzerland (microscopy) where I learned scientific topics but similarly important, I interacted with students and professors from very different backgrounds, understanding each other always in English but also in our maternal languages (it is possible!). During this educational journey, I learned that everything can be different to what I can see. I realized that the perspectives from others always expand mine. I experienced that flexibility opens us doors and collegiality gives us opportunities. I confirmed that respect is the best thing we can offer to others and also receive from them.
This educational path influenced my way of thinking, my goals as a Faculty and educator, and my understanding of diversity. I am convinced that diverse colors, sounds, cultures, languages create the best environment for education.
We are all diverse. I believe that the only way to promote diversity is by creating the consciousness that we are ALL diverse. This applies to minorities but also “majorities”. This is my philosophy in the lab (and in my life).
Diversity and minorities need to be actively supported. I am part of this group myself as a PI originally from Argentina and as a woman. I work very seriously to show in my own career that we can have a career in academia, be solid faculty members, and excel as mentors. I try to perform my work with the goal of progressing in my position thus other minority and diversity members can feel they can also be part. I would like to be a good example to them.
In my lab, I have trained and am currently training several young scientists who are part of the underrepresented minorities (undergrads and PREP scholars), and woman graduate students. Furthermore, I am part of numerous thesis committees at UNC-Chapel Hill, out of which the majority are from women and/or men from underrepresented backgrounds. I have also been an active contributor in the Postbaccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP) at UNC-Chapel Hill serving as: (a) mentor of three scholar so far, (b) mentoring and guiding the NSF-GRFP application of one of them which has been successful, and (c) teaching in two workshops every year.
As a woman and underrepresented minority, I frequently receive invitations to participate in panels and seminars oriented to diversity members. My criterion in this regard is to accept several of them but not all because I believe that I should also be careful with my time to keep working on showing by example that it is possible to be a PI being a woman from a Latin American country. These are the panels and seminars I was honored to be part to promote inclusion:
- Retreat Dept. Biochemistry and Biophysics, UNC-Chapel Hill, invited for the Women in Science Table for discussion with trainees about my career path, 10/2019
- Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD), UNC-Chapel Hill, invited panelist for the Retreat for Graduate Students about my career path, 6/2019
- Training in Biological and Biomedical Sciences (TIBBS), Academic and Research Intensive Career Association, UNC-Chapel Hill, invited speaker for the young faculty panel for the seminar series about the transition from being a PhD trainee to holding an academic/research-intensive position, 9/2018
- Society for the Advancement of Hispanics and Native Americans in Science, UNC-Chapel Hill Chapter, invited Speaker for the Lunch & Learn Roundtable, 3/2017