We the members of Columbia University’s Department of Biological Sciences believe we have a responsibility to be actively anti-racist and to support everyone in our community through overt and sustained action. Members of underrepresented groups – particularly Black, Latinx, and Indigenous Americans – earn an unacceptably low percentage of academic degrees in science and engineering fields in the United States. This trend is representative of the systemic injustices in our society that limit access for many qualified and talented individuals. It is the responsibility of all scientists, and ours as a leading biology department, to be allies against racism at all levels, including within our own broader community. We will realize our allyship by addressing racist and discriminatory actions and by taking concrete steps to welcome, support, and uplift members into our department who have historically been underrepresented in the sciences. We believe that such actions will strengthen our department and help us stand in solidarity with those working to correct the historical injustices that still pervade much of society.
Pronouns are a key way that we recognize and refer to our peers. While pronouns are not necessarily indicative of someone's identity, they can be a great way to affirm one's gender identity. Likewise, assuming identities based on observation or stereotype can result in unintended harm by using the wrong pronouns, misgendering, or potentially outing someone. Referring to someone by pronouns they use is one way to demonstrate respect for them as a person. As such, we encourage those, who choose, to share their pronouns in professional and academic spaces, including wherever names are provided. Examples may include meeting and classroom introductions, email signatures, and on Zoom (see below). By encouraging a space for people who choose to share their pronouns, we aim to foster a more inclusive and respectful culture throughout the department.
Here is a link with examples of adding pronouns to your email signature and how to add them on zoom.
Our Department created a Committee on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in summer 2020. For 2022-2023 it consists of three undergraduate students (Alaa Ali, Nicholas Ortega, and Lina Huang), three graduate students (Kirit Limperis, Yasmin Ramadan, and Kwass Wass), two postdoctoral fellows (Panagiotis Oikonomou, Ana Maria Pozo), and five faculty members (Erin Barnhart, Ishmail Abdus-Saboor, Robert Pollack, Lili Yamasaki, and Ron Prywes). The committee is chaired by Ron Prywes.