My goal for my laboratory is to create a training environment that is diverse and inclusive and enables each trainee to reach their greatest potential. In addition to my own mentorship, I encourage my trainees to build a team of diverse mentors to best support their professional goals. As a mentor, I have been fortunate to train many underrepresented trainees from diverse backgrounds including Black and Latina women, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and those from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds. Of the ten research technicians, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows that I have trained since starting my independent laboratory, six out of ten trainees identify as members of one or more of these communities. Many of these trainees have received competitive fellowships aimed at increasing diversity in science.
Several ongoing strategies my lab uses to further diversity, equity, and inclusion are:
1. Continuing education and training in diversity, equity, inclusion, and mentorship. I have sought out research training in topics related to diversity, equity, inclusion, or mentoring, and I encourage my trainees to do the same.
2. Implementation of data-driven approaches to mitigate implicit bias in hiring decisions. I have modified my postdoctoral hiring process by implementing a defined scoring rubric that enables me to compare candidates in a quantitative and holistic manner rather than using vague feedback that can allow implicit bias to dominate.
3. Commitment to creating a laboratory environment in which every member feels valued, respected, and able to share their ideas. I actively encourage all members to contribute to scientific discussions and solicit feedback from my mentees on lab environment and mentorship using anonymous surveys.
4. Regularly revisiting our labs commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. I devote special annual lab meetings to discussions of diversity, equity, and inclusion. These meetings inform our stated lab values.
5. Applying principles of diversity equity, and inclusion to selection of research topics. Cancer genomics research has historically been highly biased toward white populations. To help combat this, my lab has ongoing projects in understudied populations: profiling the cancer genome of lung tumors from female lung cancer patients in the U.S. and Uganda.