Statement on Diversity & Inclusion

The events of the several months have brought the ideals of Diversity, Inclusion & Equity to a fine focus. Our Department recognizes that we can improve and we are committed to doing so. Our ultimate goal is to foster an environment where diversity of all types is recognized and respected, and where we can all feel comfortable being our most authentic selves. The mission of DTCB remains to train the future generations of scientists and to produce high quality biomedical research. But how we drive forward this mission is changing.

In the past two years, our Department has expanded its curriculum to include a degree in Forensic Toxicology. The incoming classes of Masters and Graduate students include nineteen students total, fourteen of whom are female and seven of whom are black/African American. Five out of the last six tenure-track appointed faculty members are women, continuing our Department’s long-standing legacy of female equity. Faculty and leaders are actively seeking ways to promote inclusion and retain diversity within our community. We want to ensure the success of our students, staff and faculty from diverse backgrounds by having open conversations and building nurturing support systems.

Here, we have outlined some of the ways we will be addressing Diversity, Inclusion & Equity in the coming years:

1) In our five-year strategic plan, we have mandated that at least once per semester we will invite a speaker who is not only an outstanding scientist, but who also comes from an under-represented background. Students will have the opportunity to meet with these speakers during lunch following the seminar and learn about their career paths and how they overcame obstacles. This semester, Dr. John Carpten, a highly successful African American scientist from UCSC, will present on October 28th.

2) The Director of Graduate Studies, Dr. Isabel Mellon, will collect the demographic and diversity information for each incoming class using an anonymous survey. This information will allow us understand how to promote inclusion for all of our students, and direct us to find speakers who reflect the backgrounds of our students.

3) Dr. Christine Brainson is serving as the DTCB’s Diversity and Inclusion Ambassador. Each month Ambassadors from each Department in the College of Medicine meet with the Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion, Dr. Stephanie White. Dr. Brainson will keep the DTCB up-to-date on new initiatives as they are rolled out.

4) We have created a DTCB committee for Diversity, Inclusion & Equity. This committee will be comprised of Dr. Xiaoqi Liu, Dr. Isabel Mellon, Dr. Christine Brainson, Martina Lin, Pratik Thapa, Courtney Kelson and Tanner DuCote. The first planned agenda item for the Department is a ‘listening session’ that will be held after the Fall Semester start and will be open to all DTCB members. We hope you will all consider attending.

Lastly, while we put in place more comprehensive plans, we want to share with you some resources at the College and University Level:
1) If you have been impacted by bias or identity-based violence, please contact Bias Incident Support Services: https://www.uky.edu/biss/

2) Also at the University level in the Office of Institutional Equity and Equal Opportunity. This office handles discrimination and harassment cases: https://www.uky.edu/eeo/discrimination-harassment

3) We also have University wide Diversity & Inclusion Officers. Dr. Stephanie White serves for the College, Cleo Price serves for Graduate Students, and Toni Smith serves for UK Research. These Officers are the people driving Diversity initiatives, so look to them if you have suggestions to move us forward. https://www.uky.edu/inclusiveexcellence/college-diversity-inclusion-offi...

4) For Students, there is free access to the Behavioral Health Clinic and the UK Counseling Center: https://ukhealthcare.uky.edu/university-health-service/student-health/se...

5) This link provides access to various E-Books on anti-racism and social justice that are available through UK library. http://jhorne.createuky.net/antiracism/

We are actively seeking input from faculty, staff and students about how we can better foster an inclusive environment. Please do not hesitate to contact us with ideas: toxandcancerbio@uky.edu