Skip to content Skip to navigation

2016-2017 DIF Projects

African Humanities Collective

Contact: Kristin Wilson,

For most African parents, education is for immediate and practical purposes, which means many African students are pushed into engineering, medicine and the natural sciences with law (and the social sciences) as a worst case alternative. Study in the humanities is still considered pointless which means African students in the humanities often find themselves having to consistently justify their academic choices. This puts them under immense pressure and can be isolating and demoralizing. AHC is committed to providing academic, professional and cultural resources to Africans in the humanities, we bring these students together to build a sense of community while educating each other and the broader Stanford Community about our research, identities, and ideas. We especially hope to encourage African undergraduates to pursue advanced degrees in the Humanities.

Asia Business Student Association at the Graduate School of Business

Contact: Carrie Wang,

This year’s ABSA leadership plans to organize GSB’s inaugural Asian Identity Retreat - we believe this retreat will serve as an important milestone in advancing Asian-related diversity discussions, support Asian students at the GSB and creating an intimate environment to facilitate honest dialogues and reflections. This Identity Retreat will enhance the quality of the Stanford experience for its Asian graduate students and support their educational and career goals. Through speakers and small group activities, we plan to facilitate discussions around being an Asian student at the GSB and Stanford and challenges (i.e. “the bamboo ceiling”) and role models for Asians in the workplace. This Identity Retreat will not only serve the ~80 Stanford graduate student who attend in person, but also have a significant impact on the ~150 Asian-student community at the GSB as well as the broader Asian student body at Stanford.

Black Engineering Graduate Student Association (BEGSA)

Contact: Lasana Power,

The mission of the Stanford Exposure to Research and Graduate Education (SERGE) Program is to increase the inclusion and cultural diversity of Stanford University’s Graduate School of Engineering by increasing the exposure of culturally underrepresented groups to graduate engineering and research opportunities. According to a study by the NSF, Underrepresented Minorities (URM) were recipients of fewer than 15% of all Master’s degrees and fewer than 7% in doctorate degrees in science and engineering programs in 2010. The implications of this pipeline issue extend to representation in STEM professions, full/tenured faculty positions, and the Bay Area’s illustrious startup community. The Black Engineering Graduate Student Association (BEGSA) believes acting to resolve academia’s pipeline issue generally, and specifically improving Stanford University's inclusion and cultural representation within the School of Engineering is imperative. BEGSA seeks to address the aforementioned academic disparity by recruiting and exposing high achieving and high aptitude college juniors and seniors within the California college network to graduate engineering and research opportunities at Stanford University. As it currently exists, Stanford University has no formal program touchpoint for recruiting competitive URM students ahead of application deadlines. By hosting competitive potential applicants (rising juniors and seniors), current URM graduate students and faculty are able to provide pointed guidance and support that would increase the number of successful URM applications to Stanford’s School of Engineering. By building the network and community of scholars, we will vastly increase the likelihood of URM students successfully completing terminal degrees in engineering, and continuing to research and faculty careers.

Challenge Accepted: Empowerment of the Bay Area Black Youth

Contact: Ariel Reid,

The aim of Challenge Accepted is to bridge the gap between the black graduate community at Stanford, and black youth in the local Bay Area. We recognize that over 60 years since the Brown vs. Board of Education ruling, there still exists a great disparity between the educational outcomes of marginalized communities of color, and their non-minority peers. The lack of quality education among black Americans has had a debilitating effect on the community, and its ability to achieve social, economic, and political mobility. We hope that by establishing a connection to these communities, we can attack this educational divide at its core in the Bay Area. This project will give youth participants a variety of opportunities to engage with students of color at Stanford. Not only are youth participants mentored by a Stanford graduate student, but they will also receive access to professional development workshops, survey lectures on a range of disciplines, and ultimately the exposure to people of color who are pursuing PhD, JD, MD, and MBA degrees at one of the most prestigious universities in the world. By mitigating the discrepancy in the educational outcomes of black youth and their non-black peers, we hope to contribute to the continued and concerted efforts of many, whose ultimate goal is to achieve educational equality for all.

Democracy, Violence and LGBTQ Rights in Latin America

Contact: Ena Alvarado, and Carlos Sanchez-Martinez,

With a predicted inflation of over 750% for 2016, one of the highest murder rates in the world, and a humanitarian crisis stemming from prolonged shortages of basic food staples and medicines, Venezuela is currently facing a socio-economic and institutional crisis that is unprecedented in its modern history. Given this context, students from the Venezuelan Student Association (VenSA) have felt compelled to initiate a campus debate on how best to address these deficiencies from the perspectives of various academic disciplines. This event will comprise a daylong conference in which scholars from both American and Venezuelan universities will discuss political, economic, and social outlooks and solutions to the post-Chávez deteriorating state of Venezuela. The main goal of this project is to discuss the current institutional crisis taking place in Venezuela, as well as to better understand its underpinnings. There will be a focus on LGBT rights in Latin America as a case example. The conference will take place on Saturday, March 4, 2017.

Geneticists for Diversity in Science

Contact: Kimberly Tsui,

Geneticists for Diversity in Science (GDS) aims to promote gender, economic and ethnic diversity in science, starting with the Department of Genetics. Our goal is to equip women and members of underrepresented minorities in science with a network of support and resources for succeeding in academia and the workforce through seminars, networking lunches and workshops. Our events are highly targeted to the challenges of navigating a career path in the modern biosciences, weaving together mentorship and science in talks by successful scientists from varied backgrounds.

Interdisciplianry Race & Ethnicity Reading Group

Contact: Vivian Yan,

The race and ethnicity studies reading group will bring graduate students together from multiple disciplines to read recent scholarship in the study of race and ethnicity. These disciplines may include, but are not limited to, literature, history, sociology, education, anthropology, political science, and psychology. We will focus primarily on the United States, though comparative and global perspectives will be welcome. By meeting to discuss new scholarship 3 times per quarter, this reading group will promote cross-disciplinary perspectives, broaden and deepen participants' knowledge of race and ethnicity in the US, and encourage the formation of a community of young scholars interested in similar questions and issues.

Learning Journeys

Contact: Jenna Nichols,

We convene students, leaders in venture capital, impact investing, technology and entrepreneurship to explore issues around inclusion and implicit bias. Our experience is that people working in the investing and entrepreneurship sectors often suffer from implicit bias. This leads to less funding being directed to women and minority founders. We seek to explore these themes through a series of discussions. Some of the questions that we will explore include:

  • How might certain racial cues (e.g., names, body language) trigger bias toward minority entrepreneurs among venture capitalists?
  • How can we measure this bias, if it exists, and what can we do about it?
  • What is the lost financial opportunity that bias creates?
  • Are impact investors more or less likely to hold bias relative to traditional investors?
  • How might their biases differ?

Let’s Have an Awesome Time Doing Science

Contact: Cole Sitron,

As scientists, we have chosen an important and exciting profession. However, science can be a tough career path. Periods of thrilling discovery punctuate stretches of stress and grueling work. A balance between work and life can often be difficult to strike. The pressures of publication and competition weigh heavily. How can we glean insight into successful approaches to these complex issues? Who better to learn from than some of the most respected scientists in academia and industry? The goal of the symposium is to bring high-profile, thoughtful researchers from a wide array of backgrounds to speak to students and postdocs on subjects that aren't often addressed in research talks but are nonetheless crucial to our development and well-being as scientists. Each speaker will describe a set of philosophies and approaches to science, using an assigned theme as a jumping off point, with a particular emphasis on issues pertinent to attendees from diverse backgrounds.

Mathematics Directed Reading Program

Contact: Abigail Ward,

The Directed Reading Program (DRP) is a new initiative in the math department which pairs undergraduate students with math graduate student mentors to meet one-on-one to study a topic. During the quarter, DRP mentors and their students meet once a week for about an hour to discuss the chosen topic, and at the end of the quarter all participants meet to hear short presentations by the undergraduate students. This program creates an accessible way for any Stanford undergraduate to gain cultural capital in mathematics; we are actively recruiting women and members of other groups which are currently underrepresented in the field. Our hope is to initiate connections between and within the undergraduate and graduate populations and create a community in our department which is accessible and welcoming to all.

Mothers in Academia

Contact: Tina Cheuk,

Mothers in Academia (MIA) is a network of mothers, expectant mothers, and allies designed to empower participants to navigate the academy as graduate students and postdocs, advance our voice and influence within the academy, and build the tools and support necessary to be successful in our roles, teams, and organizations. The broad goal of this network is to support a growing community of mothers and educate the broader academy on how to support and integrate female scholars (in particular, mothers) into the academy. In particular, this group will work together to unpack complex issues, emotions, and professional questions around working and learning as a mother in the academy.

oSTEM @ Stanford

Contact: Chava Bobb,

While scientific study is popularly believed to be an objective practice, the scientists themselves are often subject to frequent review from their peers in the form of grant applications, publications, performance reviews, and considerations for promotion and tenure. These social interactions are hardly objective, and, as a result, today’s science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) professionals often avoid sharing personal details that could alienate them from their coworkers and gatekeepers. Consequently, the underrepresentation of openly the preexisting underrepresentation of openly queer faculty and professionals is exacerbated and, andthe preexisting underrepresentation of openly queer faculty and professionals is exacerbated, and the next generations of STEM professionals face a scarcity of mentors to help guide them through the professional and academic pipeline. Furthermore, withoutWithout a forum to begin these critical dialogues about the intersections of professional and personal identities, we cannot expect to see changes in STEM culture and climate that will ultimately sustain the diverse STEM community we seek to become. The Queer Perspectives Speaker Series (QPSS) empowers queer Stanford students (undergraduate, graduate, and post-doctoral) to pursue careers in STEM fields by hosting advanced queer professionals from those fields to talk about their experience and the intersection of their identity and career. The series is coordinated by the Stanford Chapter of Out in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (oSTEM@Stanford) and provides an opportunity for networking, community building, and professional development between students and openly queer individuals advanced in their careers.

Science Teaching through Art (STAR)

Contact: Suchita Rastogi,

The Science Teaching through Art (STAR) program educates Stanford graduate and postdoctoral scholars across multiple STEM departments to employ art and design principles to communicate their work to general audiences, with a special emphasis on high school and college students from disadvantaged backgrounds. The program begins with a series of interactive workshops, in which Stanford researchers design and create striking and effective visual aids that capture the attention of diverse audiences, distill complicated concepts to their essence, and open lines of communication between the researcher and the public. As STAR attracts researchers from a variety of STEM fields, this sequence provides participants a unique opportunity to network and collaborate with graduate students and postdocs from other departments in a small group setting. The program culminates in a series of poster exhibitions at Stanford, local high schools, and nearby community colleges. In presenting their work to these young audiences, STAR participants not only hone their presentation skills based on principles they learned in the workshops, but also empower young people from diverse backgrounds with valuable information about STEM-related careers, including exposure to cutting-edge research and to full-fledged scientists from a world-class academic institution.

Stanford Black Bioscience Organization

Contact: Clayton Brown,

The Stanford Black Bioscience Organization aims to foster community among black bioscience graduate student at Stanford and the greater Bay Area. Currently, our organization holds monthly happy hours with the Stanford Black Postdoc Association. In the coming months we plan to expand the scope of our events to professional development. To this end, we will be hosting a workshop on networking followed accompanied by a diversity mixer with graduate students from UCSF and Berkeley. Later in the year we will sponsor a faculty luncheon and talk. We hope that these efforts will strengthen the black community at Stanford and inspire the next generation of scientists.

Stanford Black Postdoc Organization

Contact: Kasey Davis,

The Black Postdoc Association seeks to build a community among the black postdocs here at Stanford, that will lead to a valuable professional network to support and promote diversity. It is our goal to provide information about opportunities such as conferences, workshops, seminars, grants/fellowships, travel awards and volunteer opportunities related to issues of diversity. We will work with BGSA to organize a panel discussion where black graduate students and postdocs will share their experiences on successfully applying as well as matriculating graduate school.

Stanford Women in Fluid Dynamics

Contact: Tracy Mandel,

The mission of Stanford Women in Fluid Dynamics (SWiFD) is to build an interdepartmental support network for women in the field of fluid mechanics, in order to promote their intellectual and professional development. As fluid mechanicians, we are scattered among several departments and are often underrepresented in courses, seminars, and conferences. SWiFD will create an interdepartmental resource that focuses on women preparing for careers in academia or research labs. This project will enhance Stanford’s diversity by creating an environment that enriches the graduate and postdoctoral experience for women in fluid mechanics, helping to both retain and recruit this underrepresented minority. We will accomplish this through faculty seminars, small-group discussions, networking dinners, professional development workshops, and outreach and volunteer activities.

Stanford Women in Math Mentoring

Contact: Evangelie Zachos,

This program will pair undergraduate women interested in math with graduate student mentors from math, statistics, and ICME to meet once a month. These meetings will provide a social web welcoming the undergraduates into the mathematical community and supplying helpful information. The graduate mentors will encourage the participating students to consider graduate school and fellowships in the mathematical sciences and to interact positively and actively with mathematics at Stanford. The mentors' collective knowledge about opportunities such as summer programs and conferences will also be available to each undergraduate. The graduate mentors will learn more about the other participating departments, deepen their understanding of diverse undergraduate experiences, and become empowered through their guidance of younger mathematicians.

Support & Advocacy for the Advancement of Women & Minority Scholars

Contact: Jennifer Cryer,

SAAWMS aims to prepare students from diverse backgrounds for academic careers in the Social Sciences, and to use diversity as a tool to improve education and creativity. The program will provide opportunities for professional development for underrepresented students, and educational programming on diversity issues. Project activities will include: (1) providing structured seminars and professional development workshops tailored to academic careers in the Social Sciences, (2) disseminating information and hosting workshops about ways to advocate for diversity issues in a professional setting, and (3) maintaining networking events for Bay Area minorities and women in the Social Sciences. The project is a collaboration between the Department of Political Science, the Political Science Graduate Student Association, and the VPGE. Our hope is that we may address issues of diversity in the Social Sciences, which still see a dramatically low number of persons of color accepting tenure track positions at research institutions.