Department Initiatives

Department Initiatives

In the Department of Biochemistry, we aim to build a truly inclusive community through the following:

JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion) Committee

With strong support from the department, the Biochemistry JEDI Committee—consisting of PhD students, postdocs, staff, and faculty—promotes a welcoming environment, provides a platform for community outreach, and encourages faculty and student attendance at national conferences for underrepresented minorities in the sciences. The JEDI committee also sponsors a departmental postdoc forum where junior faculty share career advice on their recent transitions to faculty positions. This committee always looks for new ideas. Contact Alberto Bartesaghi or Kate Meyer if you'd like more information, want to volunteer, or have program suggestions. 

The current members of the JEDI Committee are:

  • Alberto Bartesaghi
  • Floyd Borden
  • Mike Boyce
  • Abhi Chhetri
  • Brian Coggins
  • Ashley Dew
  • Alyssa Florwick
  • George Georgiou
  • Aili Hao
  • Megan Kelly
  • Meta Kuehn
  • Clariss Limso
  • Bettie Sue Masters
  • Kate Meyer
  • Erica Washington
  • David Zhu

Volunteer Opportunities Workshop

Each year, the JEDI committee hosts a workshop for staff, faculty, students, and postdocs to give input in how we can better promote science initiatives in our community and to learn about volunteering opportunities in the greater Durham area. Past presentations have included how to participate in educational opportunities in our neighborhood public schools and at the nearby NC Museum of Life Science.

Diversity and Inclusion Events

The Biochemistry Department sponsors activities in and around Durham that have included volunteering at the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina and raising funds for the Piedmont Wildlife Center and the NC Museum of Life and Science. The department also co-sponsors a table for Biochemistry students and guests at the annual Ida Stephens Owens Black Tie Dinner hosted by the Bouchet Society.

Diversity and Inclusion Seminar

Biochemistry’s annual JEDI-sponsored seminar has brought in nationally recognized scholars who are also experts in addressing the challenge of achieving a departmental representation that reflects our national diversity. In addition to their scientific presentations, these leaders preside over a seminar that challenges the status quo and identifies solutions to help achieve an inclusive and diverse department. Students, faculty, and postdocs are encouraged to engage in fruitful conversations with visiting speakers.

Our speaker on January 7, 2022 will be:
Candice Etson, PhD
Wesleyan University, Assistant Professor of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry

Past speakers have included:
Tracy Johnson, PhD
, Professor Maria Rowena Ross Chair, Cell Biology and Biochemistry
HHMI Investigator and Associate Dean for Inclusive Excellence

Mark Peifer, PhD 
UNC Chapel Hill
, Michael Hooker Distinguished Professor, Department of Biology

Squire Booker, PhD

Penn State, Eberly Distinguished Chair in Science
HHMI Investigator and Professor of Chemistry, Biochemistry, and Molecular Biology​

The Biochemistry Graduate Student Council (BGSC)

The BGSC is a monthly forum where select students, the department, and the graduate school work together to discuss and help solve graduate student life issues. The BGSC is composed of five, annually elected members who represent the graduate student body. Three members serve as core BGSC representatives; the fourth member coordinates volunteer and outreach opportunities; while the fifth member is the department's Graduate and Professional Student Council (GPSC) representative. The council and interested students also discuss upcoming BGSC hosted events.

BGSC Members

Emily Cannistraci
Catherine Ehrhart
George Georgiou
Stephanie Gu
Kelly Huynh
Claudia Lee
Di (Lydia) Li
Gus Lowry
Justin Martyr
Carly Sciandra
Serena Wan