Black scientists exist in a space that is slowly inching its doors wider for people from underrepresented backgrounds, creating an opportunity for them to make the lab a healthier and more inclusive space for themselves and the budding Black scientists coming after them. In spite of the dichotomy of this experience, the work of Black scientists is immensely positive and powerful for the future. Black History Month, and every month, is a time to highlight this work by the Black students and faculty members at the Institute for Basic Biomedical Sciences as they set new standards and break through milestones that open the doors a little wider.
One such milestone was shattered by Namandje Bumpus, the new pharmacology and molecular sciences director.
We are kicking off this celebration with @BumpusLab! Namandje Bumpus is the first Black woman to serve as director of a department at the JHUSOM and the only Black woman currently leading a pharmacology department in the country. pic.twitter.com/6BWxzAzDEq— Hopkins Med News (@HopkinsMedNews) February 1, 2021
In addition to their research and teaching positions, Black faculty members in the basic sciences, such as neuroscience expert Greg Carr and musculoskeletal expert Warren Grayson, have stepped into diversity and inclusion roles.
At Hopkins @GregCarrNeuro has been involved in several diversity roles, most notably as a Basic Science Institute Summer Internship Program review committee member and host, and a SOM 2nd Look Weekend panel member.— Hopkins Med News (@HopkinsMedNews) February 3, 2021
As the chair of the @JHUBME Committee for Diversity, Inclusion, Culture, and Equity @GraysonLab helps pursue efforts to increase the presence of underrepresented minorities at all levels within the department.— Hopkins Med News (@HopkinsMedNews) February 5, 2021
While she was still a postdoctoral student, Dionna Williams, now one of the newest basic science faculty members, cofounded the Diversity Postdoctoral Alliance Committee while she was still a post-doctoral student, to create a nurturing environment for trainees of color.
Dionna is a co-founder of @DPAC_JHPDA where she founded and led the Mentoring Family Program which pairs URM postdoctoral fellows and clinical fellows/medical residents with graduate student and medical student mentees respectively. https://t.co/1bEMNbReCX— Hopkins Med News (@HopkinsMedNews) February 11, 2021
Creating environments, both formally and informally, in which Black students can be their authentic selves is critical in academia. According to Biochemistry, Cellular and Molecular Biology Graduate Program student Cory White, “It’s fulfilling to have advocates who allowed me to be my authentic self and who understood the entirety of what it means to navigate academia as Black trainees.”
Outside of his official roles @coryjwhite informally mentors many of the Black basic science grad students. He reads fellowship applications, hosts mock qualification exams & gives general advice regarding navigating grad school while Black.— Hopkins Med News (@HopkinsMedNews) February 18, 2021
And just like the faculty members they train under, Black basic science students — including Sara Haile, former Biomedical Scholars Association president — lead in diversity and inclusion roles.
.@haile__sara also served as president of @BSA_JHMI. She organized events where students had a safe space to connect, community service & coffee hours for prospective PhD students. Sara is also an active mentor with @ThreadBaltimore.— Hopkins Med News (@HopkinsMedNews) February 22, 2021
But Johns Hopkins is not the only place where students are working to make science accessible for all. Many work for community organizations such as the National Science Policy Network, through which neuroscience student Thomas Burnett helps create more opportunities for underrepresented minorities.
And when the desired organization doesn’t exist, students such as Michael Hopkins, founder of Black Scientists Matter, and Pingdewinde Sam, founder of economic development and health promotion nonprofit Teebo, create them.
.@mr_hopkins8 founded Black Scientists Matter, an apparel brand promoting inclusion in STEM, science education and career advancement opportunities for marginalized communities. The brand was awarded a @JHTechVentures FastForward U grant. https://t.co/A2kMmGBz9p— Hopkins Med News (@HopkinsMedNews) February 16, 2021
Check out the Black History Month celebration thread on Twitter to learn more about Johns Hopkins’ Black basic science faculty members and students.
.@samestry is also the founder of @teebobf which aims to reduce poverty in his native country Burkina Faso through economic development and healthcare advancement. He was recently awarded a 2020 MLK Community Service Award for his work. https://t.co/b4h32RlsZ6— Hopkins Med News (@HopkinsMedNews) February 26, 2021