Life Sciences Faculty Diversity Initiative

The Departments of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, Nutritional Sciences and Toxicology, Plant and Microbial Biology, Integrative Biology, Molecular and Cell Biology, and Chemistry with the enthusiastic support of the campus have developed a unique cross-divisional collaboration to advance faculty diversity, equity and inclusion in the life sciences.

As intellectual leaders, faculty have an especially important role to play in respecting and valuing different perspectives and in creating an inclusive environment. Census data from 2016-17 show a dramatic difference in demographics between our students and our faculty. Our shared key objective is to diversify the scientific workforce by removing barriers that continue to affect historically excluded populations, with new practices and programs that lead to a larger cultural change in which all faculty share responsibility in advancing equity and inclusion.

This initiative centers on bolstering institutional change and building a critical mass of faculty engaged in advancing diversity, equity and inclusion.

Life Sciences Cluster Hire

The allocation of five positions across the life sciences has been made expressly for the purpose of recruiting excellent research scientists with a strong commitment and history of advancing diversity, equity and inclusion through mentorship, teaching or service. We expect this recruitment to create a surge in faculty activity and expedite positive change.  

Institutional Change

We recognize that recruiting excellent new faculty with a commitment to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion at Berkeley is only the first step in transforming the culture in the life sciences on our campus. The following measures aim to ensure the success of our recruited faculty and bolster inclusive practices on campus.

Program Support for New Hires: Additional funding support will be provided to all new faculty hires in the participating units to develop programs or initiatives to advance diversity, equity and inclusion. Funding may be used for travel, support for student or mentee events or activities, and/or for teaching buy-out to ensure that faculty can also effectively focus on their research.

Integrating Research with Education and Outreach in the Life Sciences Symposium: On May 9, 2019, the Berkeley campus will host a symposium for life sciences faculty, graduate students and postdocs to discuss successful strategies that forge a synergy between research and education, and other efforts to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion at UC Berkeley. 

Annual Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Retreats: The newly established Life Sciences Equity and Inclusion Council, consisting of faculty committed to improving campus climate and diversity, will convene a one-day retreat each year to share and develop best practices with department faculty, equity advisors, and leadership. In this way, best practices will be continually propagated across the Life Sciences.

Ongoing Support and Development: Effective mentoring is crucial for the success of all junior faculty. The Life Sciences Equity and Inclusion Council and participating departments will play an active role in supporting and advising new faculty on diversity, equity and inclusion. In addition, a cohort-mentoring program will be established that capitalizes on the experience of underrepresented faculty across campus, not just in the life sciences.

Summary Report

In the Year End Summary Report the Initiative Co-Chairs state: "In its first year, the Initiative to Advance Faculty Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Life Sciences made a strong impact on our campus and was a successful catalyst for positive change. It has been a high profile “proof of concept” that changing faculty search practices can result in successful recruitment of candidates that are both excellent researchers and committed advocates for advancing diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) through their research, teaching, and/or service."

For questions about this initiative please contact Rebecca Heald ( or Mary Wildermuth (