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Bullet announcements, awards · Jul 30, 2021

AIBS Receives NSF LEAPS Award to Support Diversity Conference

AIBS has been awarded a standard grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) under the LEAding cultural change through Professional Societies (LEAPS) of Biology program to support the development of a conference entitled “Enabling Scientific Societies to Support Inclusive, Diverse, Equitable & Accepting (IDEA) Scientific Environments.” The conference will engage and create a collaborative network of majority- and minority-serving biological scientific societies to foster cultural change through two virtual workshops.

Scientific institutions increasingly recognize the need to remove barriers for individuals historically underrepresented in science and to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). A wider breadth of scientific competencies, achieved by improving DEI, is needed to address many crucial scientific concerns with global impacts. However, improving DEI requires a significant cultural shift, and scientific societies provide a unique platform to lead these cultural changes in the biological sciences. Scientific societies represent a wide variety of individuals and institutions; they have access to multiple fields of biology to impart resources and education; and they can enable networking and idea sharing across many disciplines and organizations to empower new approaches. It is crucial that scientific societies create inclusive, diverse, equitable, and accepting (IDEA) scientific environments to ensure that science is equipped to address 21st century grand challenges. Creating IDEA scientific environments requires an iterative process of top-down and bottom-up approaches that rely on sharing information and experiences, analyzing personal assumptions and expectations, communicating with honesty and openness, and committing to change.

This conference will engage scientific society leadership to collaboratively understand the components of IDEA cultures, assess the current culture in biology, identify barriers to enabling IDEA environments, create action plans to overcome these barriers, and commit to long-term cultural change. A virtual workshop in the fall of 2021 will provide a forum for leaders of scientific societies to engage in shared learning, discussion, and reflection on three topics: (1) culture, (2) bias and stereotypes, and (3) equity. The workshop will offer tools for participants to develop action plans to enable IDEA scientific environments and to take the knowledge, resources, and tools they have gained back to their organizations. A second workshop will occur 6 months later and will be informed by a webinar and a participant survey to assess the early implementation of the action plans. The follow-up workshop will result in longer-term steps to continue progress in creating IDEA scientific environments.