Our commitment to countering racism and discrimination

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Diversity 0

The UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry stands with the Black Lives Matter movement. 

The past and present murders of African Americans, and the skewed way the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our black students and their families is posing unprecedented challenges to education. This is a tumultuous time. But it is also a time to rededicate ourselves to making UCLA and our department a more diverse and more inclusive home.

We have much work to do at UCLA, in our department, in education and in the STEM community. Our department leadership pledges to listen, collaborate, and connect with the black, indigenous, and people of color that we interact with every day in our laboratories and classrooms. But we cannot and should not expect them to take on the time-intensive work of change without our active support and participation. We invite all faculty, staff, students, postdocs, and alumni to be involved in implementing changes, and work to improve the environment in our department and at UCLA. The changes needed are not easy, and the path is not straightforward. As scientists, we will need to plan a path forward, analyze the effectiveness of our efforts, and make the results widely available and let the facts tell us what further steps are needed. We pledge to tackle these challenges, to work together as a community to make these changes, and to ensure that the policies we enact are effective.

Our passions as pioneers are to make discoveries and share them with our communities.  As scientists, we also know these discoveries derive from teamwork, and that successful teams are inclusive and value diverse viewpoints and thinking. We know how challenging it is to communicate across disciplines – chemists with biologists, theorists with experimentalists. Our June 2019 commencement speaker, Dr. Mike Varney, Executive Vice President of Genentech, gave us this powerful message, “People who can communicate across discipline boundaries will own the future.”  He also said that biases that limit, discriminate, and close off diverse perspectives serve to constrict teams, close off the solution space, and have no place in science. Dr. Varney has changed the workforce and the culture at Genentech. 

We urge individual faculty, staff, students and alumni to donate to organizations that support diversity in STEM such as the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE). 

To learn more, read the department’s Diversity Statement and Diversity Plan (Fall 2019) (PDF).

Together, and as a community, we will make needed changes at UCLA.

Professor Neil Garg (Department Chair) and Professor Catherine Clarke (Diversity Committee Chair)

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