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News Scientista Chapter Provides a Platform for Supporting Black Female Students

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UD Graduate Scientista Against Racism and Inequality
Scientista group members

Dear UD Graduate Scientista Community, 

We hope that this message finds you healthy and safe. In response to the current global Black Lives Matter movement, we have taken this time to begin educating ourselves to best incorporate more Black female voices in our community as we feel that our Scientista chapter provides a good platform for supporting black female students in STEM in our immediate and surrounding communities. We believe that the actionable items described below will be our organization's first steps in addressing the systemic racism and inequality in our institution. First, we would like to provide some information about our organization for all of our new and existing members: 


Background of Scientistas at UD:

The national Scientista Foundation was created in 2011 by two sisters at Harvard University with the goal of empowering women in STEM fields at the undergraduate, graduate, and professional levels (see mission statement below). The undergraduate UD Scientista chapter was one of the first institutional chapters joining the national foundation. In 2018, Melanie Matyi (BRIDGE day coordinator; doctoral student, Dept. of Psychological & Brain Sciences, Clinical Science) and Katrina Milbocker (2018 UD Woman of Promise & 2019 UD Biden Institute Women of Power; doctoral student, Dept. of Psychological & Brain Sciences, Behavioral Neuroscience) successfully founded the University of Delaware Graduate Scientista Foundation Chapter. Our goals for this organization are to 1) create a more supportive environment for female graduate students in STEM, 2) ameliorate gender disparities in varying scientific disciplines, and 3) create a mentorship program between female undergraduate and graduate science students at UD. We believe that these goals are integral not only for the advancement of scientific knowledge, but for the retention and success of our graduate community as well as to address the strength of the pipeline from student to professional. With the guidance of our club advisor, Dr. Chad Forbes (Dept. of Psychological & Brain Sciences), we are certain that these goals can be met. 

 Since our inception, the chapter was awarded a UD New Graduate Organization Award from the UD Center for Diversity which provided travel funding for 6 graduate students from various science fields to present at the 2019 Scientista Symposium at Harvard University. In addition, 4 presenters won Scientista travel awards and 1 presenter won the prestigious Perricone MD Born Seekers Fellowship, a $20,000 award given to a young distinguished female role model. Finally, we are creating a graduate-undergraduate mentorship program, organizing workshops and seminars for female graduate students, and connecting female trainees with career-advancing opportunities. It should be noted that due to the broad goal of increasing inclusivity of female students and pre-professionals in STEM, we encourage the membership of all students including those who do not identify as female. 


Current Executive Board Members:

Directors & Founders: Katrina Milbocker & Melanie Matyi

Branch Publisher Chair: Felicia Berube (doctoral student, Kinesiology & Applied Physiology) 

Treasurer Chair: Mary Beth Bielicki (doctoral student, Behavioral Neuroscience)

Public Relations Chair: Michele D'Agata (doctoral student, Kinesiology & Applied Physiology) 

Recruitment Chairs: Laura Welti (doctoral student, Kinesiology & Applied Physiology) & Taylor Campbell (doctoral student, Behavioral Neuroscience) 


UD Graduate Scientista Against Racism and Inequality: 

Changes to Organization 

1. Election of New or Current Member to new Diversity Chair executive board position

This graduate member will begin by helping us to create our own Diversity Pledge and plan events to support future Black female scientists at UD and in the greater Newark, DE area. If you are interested in applying for the Diversity Chair position, please send email with your name, current position at the university, and a short description of why you believe that you would be a good fit for this executive board position. We are accepting informal applications from all new and current members until 6/17/20. 

 2. Highlighting Black women in STEM on our Facebook page. We encourage our Black female scientists to provide a short blurb describing their achievements and a picture for the post to this email. Facebook page search: UD Grad Scientista

 3. Hosting monthly Zoom coffee hours beginning 6/16/2020 at 10:30am to provide a safe space for dialogue about race and gender issues in STEM in order to amplify the voices that need to be heard the most. Zoom link for 6/16/20:


Events in the Pipeline

1. Developing a seminar or webinar series geared towards diverse youth in the Newark, DE area covering topics related to racial and ethnic disparities in STEM, college, and higher education. Potentially in conjunction in the national organization Black Ph.D. Network (based in Wilmington, DE).

 2. Networking event to connect a diverse group of faculty with our members to broaden students' mentorship circle and provide support beyond those typically provided by assigned PI (research & academic)


To join our email list and become a member, please complete the following:

To become an affiliated faculty member and connect with our members, please complete the following:



Katrina Milbocker & Melanie Matyi





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