Our PMB Community
The Department of Plant & Microbial Biology (PMB) recognizes the role that universities, including UC Berkeley, have played in the disenfranchisement of countless marginalized groups. We therefore strive to commit ourselves to diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice.
At PMB, we are dedicated to creating an inclusive department by actively working to rectify existing inequities. We aim to educate our members about the historical oppression faced by historically marginalized groups, in order to empower our community to shepherd a welcoming and nondiscriminatory research environment. We are committed to recruiting and supporting students, postdoctoral scholars, staff and faculty that come from diverse backgrounds. In addition, members of our community develop and participate in numerous outreach programs to advance inclusion in science at large and inspire the next generation of scientists.
We recognize the essentiality of recruiting and supporting individuals from diverse backgrounds. Science and society flourish when the voices of all are welcomed and celebrated. Our graduate admissions committee and faculty search processes are designed to provide equitable consideration of all candidates.
Our department is active in recruiting a diverse graduate student body. We recruit potential applicants from organizations, such as SACNAS and ABRCMS, that foster the success of students from groups historically excluded from science. Applications are reviewed on a holistic basis by an admissions committee composed of faculty, graduate students, and staff. We value the strengths that applicants bring to our graduate programs from their diverse academic and research backgrounds, employment experiences, and life journeys. Candidates are evaluated using rubrics meant to minimize bias, and committee members receive training in recognizing implicit bias.
Graduate student and postdoc representatives serve alongside faculty members on committees to select our department’s faculty candidates. All candidates are asked to demonstrate their excellence in scientific research and their contributions to teaching and to diversity, equity, and inclusion for evaluation. The PMB department also participates in campus-wide efforts to advance faculty diversity, equity, and inclusion in the life sciences, including a cluster hire for faculty members committed to improving the scientific community in these ways.
PMB is continually improving our recruitment practices, which are subject to review by our entire community.
Of course, recruiting individuals from diverse backgrounds is only the start. At PMB we strive to support and celebrate all of our members. We cultivate a strong sense of community through regular department-wide events, open dialog, and robust mentoring programs.
In addition, we are committed to educating ourselves in areas of racism, gender bias, and exclusivity in science and academia. We remain self-critical of our deficits and continually and actively seek to improve our efforts in inclusivity through department-wide forums such as:
- Workshops organized by members of the PMB Diversity Committee.
- PMB Diversity, Equity, and Belonging Book Club. For more information, please contact Joanne Straley.
- PMB participates in programming sponsored by inclusive MCB+, an initiative to promote an academically enriching and supportive climate that allows all graduate students to become influential, inspiring future scientists.
- Departmental Racism in Science Seminar as part of our regular seminar series.
Faculty Equity Advisors
The PMB department has two Faculty Equity Advisors who serve as resources for ensuring equity in faculty searches and graduate admissions, work on promoting an inclusive departmental climate, and create long-term plans for increasing diversity. Equity advisors are available for one-on-one consultations about concerns related to diversity, equity, and inclusion, such as departmental procedures, mentoring challenges, bullying, disability accommodations, and more. PMB’s current equity advisors are Mary Wildermuth and Michi Taga.
Department Diversity Committee
The PMB Diversity Committee, composed of faculty, graduate students, and postdocs, was founded in 2015. The committee’s mission is to intentionally foster institutional equity, diversity and inclusion by creating educational opportunities, raising awareness, and providing strategies and tools to bring to life the vision of inclusive excellence, at faculty, staff, graduate, and undergraduate levels. To that end, the committee hosts workshops and town hall meetings for the PMB community and leads policy changes to improve DEI. Topics addressed in past town hall meetings include microaggressions, harassment, bias in academic hiring, and the role of campus police. The committee led a departmental effort to implement changes in the graduate admissions process – providing explicit instructions for holistic review of applications and removing the requirement for the Graduate Record Exam – guided by evidence-based practices shown to increase diversity and equity. The committee continues to work to make PMB a place where all members of the department have a strong sense of belonging in the community. To make a suggestion or address issues to the committee, please contact the committee chair, Michi Taga.
PMB welcomes your feedback on our efforts towards an equitable and inclusive environment. Community members are always welcome to reach out to our equity advisers and discuss ideas or concerns. We also soon provide a feedback form linked here which will reviewed periodically by the PMB Diversity Committee.