Mission of the ChE Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee
The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) committee was initiated to foster an environment in the department that is respectful, encouraging, and open-minded. Our goal is to encourage diversity within our department as well as be a voice for each and every individual that seeks equity and inclusion. We also promote awareness of DEI and bias, with the aim to enhance participation of underrepresented communities in our STEM programs.
The committee is devoted to sharing resources, facilitating events, and dedicating time towards strengthening an inclusive learning and working environment. We look forward to working alongside students, faculty, and staff—empowering all towards the continued success of the department, in keeping with the University of Rochester’s visions and values.
Our Specific Goals
Diversify our department—We will continue our efforts to recruit faculty and staff to better represent the diversity of our students. We are proud that our department’s most recent two hires were women of color. Further, we have invited speakers from diverse groups to our seminar series.
Grow a pipeline to help diversify our student population at the undergraduate and graduate levels—Our vision is to provide underrepresented groups with more opportunities to highlight their talents at our department. We strive to impart transparency with regard to diversity, equity, and inclusion. We recognize that nonbinary identities exist and support them. Diversity statistics that follow federal guidelines of categorizing identities show that our department is largely on par with the national average regarding undergraduate populations. Following our current trajectory in diversifying our department, we aim to attract gifted individuals for our programs, predicated on diversity.
Diversify our advisory board—As the committee helps advance a more diverse and inclusive environment within the department, strong efforts are being made to include more members from traditionally underrepresented and minority groups into the advisory board.
DEI Committee Members
Astrid M. Müller, Assistant Professor, chair of the DEI Committee. "Diversity, equity and inclusion are empowering for all, essential for social justice, and key to innovation. I particularly care about increasing access and retention of underrepresented communities in STEM fields. We are all human beings, and we can make the world a better place by treating each other with respect."
Yasemin Basdogan, Assistant Professor, faculty member of the DEI Committee. "My diversity, equity and inclusion philosophy starts with understanding that each person is different and unique. Every individual stands at an intersection of different identities; thus, no two people are the same. I strongly believe that people with diverse personal, ethnic, cultural, religious, and academic backgrounds can make STEM stronger. However, the current composition of STEM falls short of achieving the representation needed to maximize the potential of our scientific community. As a faculty member, I strive to close this gap by promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion, and by being a visible role model and supportive mentor for women and underrepresented minorities."
David G. Foster, Professor–Instructional, faculty member of the DEI Committee. "To be successful in an increasingly diversified world, we must be able to manage the differences that exist to develop an inclusive and safe environment for students at the U of R. As a DEI committee member, I see how serious the chemical engineering department takes this matter. I joined the committee to make a difference within the department and to strengthen relationships between faculty, staff and students."
Melodie I. Lawton, Assistant Professor–Instructional, faculty member of the DEI Committee. "We cannot truly be excellent engineers if we do not use all our problem-solving tools. This means making diversity an integral part of our innovation process to provide us with a variety of perspectives, whether ethnic, gender, socioeconomic, experiences, etc. I am committed to helping others overcome unfair barriers and to establishing a culture of open communication."
Jennifer Condit, Undergraduate Coordinator, staff member of the DEI Committee. "My goal is to have every undergraduate student feel welcome and comfortable within the chemical engineering department. Effective communication in a diverse setting requires transparency and willingness to help all people despite race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, etc. I’m looking forward to deeper connections with undergrads, hearing their opinions and concerns, and striving to make each and every student have a rewarding, inclusive experience at the U of R."
Jason Maher, BS '23, undergraduate student member of the DEI Committee. “As a transgender student, I personally recognize the importance of diverse populations and welcoming attitudes in creating a healthy learning environment. In my time at UR, this department has always been a safe space for LGBTQ+ students, and I seek to extend this sentiment to students of all backgrounds. Clear communication and adaptability are core characteristics of successful engineers, and they are just as applicable here as they are to any chemical or piece of machinery.”
Jane Agwara, PhD student member of the DEI Committee. “Representation plays a pivotal role in fostering a strong sense of belonging within any community. It helps to foster a welcoming, healthy, and thriving environment for students and staff. I hope to contribute my quota towards improving the racial diversity within the chemical engineering graduate school at the University of Rochester.”
A Message from the Department Chair
Our department’s core mission is to prepare students for professional careers in chemical engineering or related fields through excellent research and education, and it is critical that we conscientiously strive to overcome implicit bias and to provide equal opportunity to all of our students. Our department values diversity, and we are fortunate to have a rich population of minority and international students. We are dedicated to the pursuit and cultivation of a learning environment that promotes free and open expression of ideas. Every individual offers a unique perspective, and our faculty, staff, and students all play important roles in fostering a professional, inclusive, and respectful climate.
In addition to university-level efforts, our department is taking concrete steps to confront existing or emerging injustices. In the summer of 2021, the Department of Chemical Engineering (CHE) formed its own Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee. The committee, chaired by Professor Astrid Müller, was tasked to communicate the importance of DEI, increase DEI in CHE, foster awareness of DEI and bias, enhance the retention of underrepresented communities in STEM, and increase our competitiveness through DEI. The committee is serious about this mission and is open to further ideas and dialog on how to directly address social injustice, continuing to foster openness and inclusiveness.
Message from the Dean
I applaud the efforts being undertaken by the Department of Chemical Engineering’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee to foster a respectful, encouraging, and open-minded environment.
Engineering is all about solving problems. And the challenges confronting us are daunting indeed. Climate change, aging infrastructure, rampant pollution, insidious threats to cyber security, global hunger, deadly pandemics—to name just a few. Many threaten our very existence.
We cannot hope to adequately address these problems when we exclude the unique talents, differing perspectives, and creative solutions that could be offered by the women and persons of color who remain so under-represented in science, technology, engineering, and math in our nation. Hence, diversifying our disciplines is an imperative.
As dean of the Hajim School, I am committed to:
- increasing the diversity of our students, staff, and faculty;
- creating policies, programs, and opportunities to ensure that women and those traditionally underrepresented in engineering are treated equitably;
- and, above all, supporting everyone with a spirit of genuine inclusivity.
I am deeply gratified by the outstanding example the Department of Chemical Engineering is setting for all of us in the Hajim School, as we work together to achieve these all-important goals.