2019 Graduate Student Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Award

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PhD student Jesus Iñiguez (Chong Liu group) has been selected by the UCLA Academic Senate for the 2019 Graduate Student Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Award.  

According to the Academic Senate’s DEI website, the prestigious award is given to just one graduate student each year in order “to honor those who have motivated other members of the University to strive for excellence. These students embrace diversity and serve humanity through learning. Not only are these students constantly working to better themselves, but they are also dedicated to the growth of their peers.”

“Jesus is a very deserving candidate of this award. He is an exemplary graduate student who is committed to UCLA’s diversity mission,” said UCLA Chemistry & Biochemistry Department Chair Professor Catherine F. Clarke.  “He is very dedicated to encouraging underrepresented students to engage and succeed in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields. His active outreach participation and leadership skills promote a diverse, impartial, and inclusive academic environment in not only UCLA but extended communities as well.”

“I am proud to have Jesus in the lab,” said his Ph.D. advisor Professor Chong Liu. “He is dedicated to research and willing to contribute to an inclusive research environment in our community.”

A reception will be held to honor Iñiguez and other DEI award recipients on Thursday, June 6, 2019, at the Chancellor’s Residence. 

Iñiguez is a second-year inorganic chemistry graduate student studying electrocatalytic alkane activation in Professor Chong Liu’s group. A UCLA alumnus, Iñiguez transferred to UCLA in 2014 from Los Angeles Mission College, and received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from UCLA in 2017. The son of immigrant farm workers from Mexico, Iñiguez is the first member of his family to graduate from college. In the low-income neighborhood he lived in as a child, role models were difficult to find, particularly in STEM fields, and Iñiguez experienced first-hand the challenges students face when they grow up in under-represented communities. As a result, he was inspired to serve as a role model to Latinos from similar backgrounds who are interested in pursuing careers in STEM fields.

In addition to his various mentorship roles at UCLA and in the Southern California area, Iñiguez is a member of Advancing Chicano/Hispanics Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) UCLA chapter, California Alliance Minority Program (CAMP), and Society of Professional Hispanic Engineers (SHPE).

Penny Jennings, UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, penny@chem.ucla.edu.