Diversity, Equity, Climate and Inclusion

Diversity Statement

The Princeton University Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering is committed to providing an open and supportive learning environment for all students, faculty and staff. As a community, we respect the dignity, individuality and freedom of each member. At the same time, we strive to be a place where individuals and groups learn with and from one another. We aim to foster a sense of shared experience and common purpose, along with a collective responsibility for one another's well-being and for the well-being of the department as a whole.

In short, our educational community must be one in which all of our members can thrive.

The Department is also committed to providing an environment that is free from all forms of discrimination, harassment, exploitation or intimidation. Academic rigor and intellectual exchange of ideas are integral parts of development as an independent scientist. All exchanges between members of the department must be carried out respectfully and with a sensitivity to the diversity of backgrounds within the community.

Princeton University aims to extend to each member of its community the resources necessary to achieve the highest levels of distinction in their work and research.


Committee on Diversity, Equity, Climate and Inclusion

In late 2020, the Department formed a Committee on Diversity, Equity, Climate and Inclusion (DECI), charged with regularly assessing the Department's climate and facilitating initiatives that foster an inclusive and diverse community.

The Committee is composed of representatives from each of the Department's active constituent groups: undergraduate students, graduate students, research staff, administrative staff and faculty.

Committee members are:

Jacqueline M. Armstrong
Prof. José L. Avalos (committee chair)
Payam E. Farahani G4
Dr. Thomas E. Gartner, III
Prof. Michele L. Sarazen
Joanna Schneider G3
Binglun Shao ‘22
Ilya R. Yatsishin ‘22

The Committee meets regularly to discuss issues related to DECI within the Department community and makes recommendations to the Department about appropriate actions that can be taken to strengthen the Department related to this initiative. As an initial step, the Committee is in the process of gathering information from community members about the current department climate to inform the Committee’s future recommendations.

Contacting the DECI committee or reporting a concern

To contact the CBE DECI committee with comments, suggestions for topics of discussion and potential action items, you may email cbedeci@princeton.edu, which will be monitored by the DECI committee chair and the CBE DECI staff representative.

In most cases, information shared with the DECI committee via this email address will be discussed among the committee and, at our discretion, may be shared as needed with the CBE Department Chair and/or Department Manager. During committee deliberations and in written reports, special care will be taken to preserve the privacy of individuals who may be personally identifiable. For example, in cases where a person’s gender or ethnicity may make their identity obvious in the group context, and thus reveal sensitive information, the Committee will elect to not include such demographic data.

The Committee’s goal is to evaluate the CBE department climate in general, not to adjudicate individual incidents or address interpersonal concerns. We encourage department members to contact individual CBE, SEAS, or University employees as appropriate to report a specific incident or concern. Potential points of contact include the CBE Department Chair, CBE Department Manager, CBE Director of Undergraduate Studies and/or CBE Director of Graduate Studies. Individuals may also choose to report a concern to the appropriate central offices on campus (see resources below).

Please note that all faculty and staff (excluding those specifically designated as confidential resources) are required to report suspected sexual misconduct to the Office of Gender Equity and Title IX Administration; more information regarding these obligations is available here. Several confidential reporting options exist across the University, as detailed below.

University-wide Resources and Reporting Options

Sexual Misconduct

Information regarding resources and options (including reporting options) for those who have experienced sexual misconduct is available at the University's sexual misconduct website. Individuals who have experienced sexual misconduct are encouraged to consult with confidential resources, including the SHARE (Sexual Harassment/Assault Advising Resources and Education) Office. 

Identity-Based Bias and Discrimination

Should you have issues, concerns, or complaints that you would like to report to the University (and for which you would like the University to take action), please share your concerns at bias@princeton.edu. Additional information for anyone who has experienced or witnessed identity-based bias, discrimination or harassment can be found at the University's Many Voices, One Future website.


Strengthening the Pipeline

The Department, and indeed the broader field of chemical and biological engineering, is best served by the rigorous exchange of ideas within the context of a diverse and inclusive intellectual environment. Academia's unique structure, while providing the bedrock for advanced research, also presents unique challenges to diversity goals. We are committed to addressing these challenges in ways that are specific to academia, to the STEM fields, and to chemical and biological engineering, in particular.

Ultimately, to increase diversity in CBE, we must strengthen the entire pipeline of academic achievement, improving access from end to end. Below is a selected list of current and recent initiatives in which the Department or its members have engaged to address underrepresentation at various levels.

Faculty

  1. Faculty Diversity. The Department has doubled the number of women on the faculty over the past three years.
  2. Faculty Search. During any active search for qualified, tenure-track faculty members, we seek those who will create a climate that embraces excellence and diversity, with a commitment to teaching and mentoring that will enhance the work of the department and attract and retain a diverse student body.
     

Postdocs and Researchers

  1. Postdoc Hiring. The faculty recently adjusted hiring practices in order to broaden the pool when filling open postdoctoral researcher positions.
  2. National Postdoc Seminar. Our faculty and staff are actively participating in a multi-institution event to help broaden the pipeline for early-career scientists from historically underrepresented groups to find positions as postdoctoral researchers.
  3. Future Faculty Workshop. In 2019, Princeton CBE faculty hosted a regional event to help early-career scientists from historically underrepresented groups network and navigate the move from graduate school to a career in academia. Our faculty continue to be involved in this annual event as it rotates to other host institutions.
  4. Fellowships. The Department participates in University-wide initiatives, including the Presidential Postdoctoral Fellowship. These programs recognize and support scholars who can contribute to the University’s diversity, broadly defined, including members of groups that have been historically and are presently underrepresented in the academy or in particular disciplines, such as racial and ethnic minorities and women in STEM.
     

Graduate Students

  1. Direct Recruitment. The DGS and administrative staff work closely with the SEAS associate dean for diversity and inclusion on a raft of recruitment efforts specifically aimed to diversify the candidate pool, broadly speaking.
  2. GRE. As of AY 2021, the Department no longer considers GRE scores in determining admission to its graduate program. GRE scores have been identified as an unreliable marker of future success and an unnecessary barrier for some underrepresented groups.
  3. Scheduling. During recruitment weekend, the Department hosts a diversity and inclusion event. Starting in AY 2021, we have adjusted the visit schedule to encourage participation by all prospective students.
  4. Predoctoral Program. We participate in the University's predoctoral program, established to widen one part of the academic pipeline that has been identified as a potential bottleneck for historically underrepresented groups: the transition from undergraduate to graduate education. Funding comes from the Department's annual operating budget and the Graduate School.
     

Undergraduate Students

  1. Funding Affinity Groups. To encourage participation and national leadership, the Department has helped fund and promote activities for the Princeton chapter of professional affinity groups, including the National Society of Black Engineers and the Society of Women Engineers.
  2. Soft Matter for All. Celebrating diversity and creativity in the area of soft matter research. This symposium is open to anyone interested in soft matter research, but is especially focused on introducing the topic to young scientists from diverse backgrounds.
  3. Undergraduate Diversity. Our undergraduate student body consists of 62% women.