Black/African American and Latinx prime-age adults are roughly a third (33 percent) of the adult population, but just 15 percent of engineers. They continue to lag in terms of admissions to engineering programs, completion of degrees, occupational penetration, and tenure in engineering jobs.
Women are also underrepresented and underpaid in engineering. Women represent a little less than half of the employed prime-age population, but they only represent 16 percent of engineers. Women’s representation in engineering occupations has been improving, but barely.
Black/African American and Latinx engineers have lower levels of educational attainment than other engineers, but even when they have equal education, they are paid less.
- Regenerative Engineering | Guillermo Ameer | Northwestern Engineering
- The Limit of Human Performance | Cynthia Bir | Chicago Ideas
- A Temporary Tattoo that Brings Hospital Care to the Home | Todd Coleman | TEDMED
- Targeting Disease with Nanoparticles | Omolola Eniola-Adefeso | Michigan Engineering
- Dr Ranu Jung Interview on Neural Enabled Prostheses | Ranu Jung | CBS 4 Miami
- Learning How to Learn | Barbara Oakley | TEDxOaklandUniversity
- The Future of Medicine is Personal | Molly Shoichet | TEDxToronto
- Behind the Scenes | Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic | Columbia Engineering Magazine
- EPSCoR 2010 Annual Conference | Larry Walker | OSU Bioenergy
The cactus chemist: Dr. Norma Alcantar
Norma Alcantar | September 5, 2023
Among the typical things you’d expect to find in a chemical engineer’s office — honorary awards, patent plaques, and books like “Environmental Analytical Chemistry” and “Introducing Chemical Engineering Thermodynamics” — Dr. Norma Alcantar’s office at the University of South Florida (USF) also showcases her love of life and teaching with books like “Intentional Integrity,” a coffee mug that reads “the influence of a good teacher can never be erased,” and a decorative plaque that reads “It’s All Gonna Be Fine.”
But hidden between the intellectual and inspirational materials, two sets of objects stand out: a series of cacti and owl collectibles. To the uninitiated, they appear to be whimsical office décor, but to those who know Alcantar, the folklore wisdom of the owl and the hardy, but elegantly designed cacti plant represent the tapestry of her life and career.
Engineered Proteins Take On Cancer’s Epigenome
Karmella Haynes | August 24, 2023
In addition to characterizing the genetic basis for different cancers, scientists are increasingly interested in the role of the epigenome in tumor development, and possible therapies that can target genes repressed by chemically modifying chromatin in cancer.
Part of what makes the epigenome an attractive target is the possibility of hitting a system of proteins involved in gene expression programming rather than a single target, according to Karmella Haynes, PhD, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Emory University. She and a team of scientists from Emory University and Georgia Institute of Technology have developed another potential approach for reactivating repressed tumor suppressor genes that could ultimately have implications for how solid tumors like triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) are treated.
Ameer Wins 2023 Excellence in Biomaterials Science Award
Guillermo Ameer | August 23, 2023
The award recognizes an individual who has made significant contributions to the science of biomaterials
Northwestern Engineering’s Guillermo A. Ameer has been elected the winner of the 2023 Excellence in Biomaterials Science Award, an honor given by the Surfaces in Biomaterials Foundation (SIBF).
The award, the highest given by the foundation, recognizes an individual who has made significant contributions to the biomaterials science field. Previous winners include Moderna cofounder Robert Langer (2020) and the late Northwestern professor Richard Van Duyne (1991).
Transforming flies into degradable plastics
Karen Wooley | August 14, 2023
Imagine using insects as a source of chemicals to make plastics that can biodegrade later — with the help of that very same type of bug. That concept is closer to reality than you might expect. Today, researchers will describe their progress to date, including isolation and purification of insect-derived chemicals and their conversion into functional bioplastics.
The researchers will present their results at the fall meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS). ACS Fall 2023 is a hybrid meeting being held virtually and in-person Aug. 13–17, and features about 12,000 presentations on a wide range of science topics.
“For 20 years, my group has been developing methods to transform natural products — such as glucose obtained from sugar cane or trees — into degradable, digestible polymers that don’t persist in the environment,” said Karen Wooley, PhD, the project’s principal investigator.
Deep learning unlocks personalised cancer therapy
Rachel Karchin | August 14, 2023
Engineers and cancer researchers have harnessed the power of machine learning technology to predict immune-boosting proteins.
Machine learning technology developed by a team of Johns Hopkins engineers and cancer researchers can accurately predict cancer-related protein fragments that may trigger an immune system response.
If validated in clinical trials, the technology could help scientists overcome a major hurdle to developing personalised immunotherapies and vaccines.
In a new study, investigators from Johns Hopkins Biomedical Engineering, the Johns Hopkins Institute for Computational Medicine, the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center and the Bloomberg~Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy show that their deep learning method, called BigMHC, can identify protein fragments on cancer cells that elicit a tumour cell-killing immune response, an essential step in understanding response to immunotherapy and in developing personalised cancer therapies.
Advancing Antiracism, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in STEMM Organizations
People from minoritized racial and ethnic groups continue to face numerous systemic barriers that impede their ability to access, persist, and thrive in STEMM higher education and the workforce.
To promote a culture of antiracism, diversity, equity, and inclusion (ADEI) in STEMM, organizations must actively work to dismantle policies and practices that disadvantage people from minoritized groups.
What Can We Do to Combat Anti-Black Racism in the Biomedical Research Enterprise?
The recent deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, in addition to the disproportionate burden of COVID-19 on African Americans, are wrenching reminders of the many harms that societal racism, inequality, and injustice inflict on the Black community. These injustices are rooted in centuries of oppression—including slavery and Jim Crow, redlining, school segregation, and mass incarceration—that continue to influence American life, including the biomedical research enterprise. Despite leading an NIH Institute whose mission includes building a diverse scientific workforce, at NIGMS we’ve struggled with what an adequate response to this moment would be, knowing that the systems that mediate the distinct and disparate burdens Black students, postdocs, and scientists face are complex and often aren’t easily moved with the urgency that they demand. With that in mind, below we share thoughts on what each of us who is in the majority or in a position of power can do to help break the cycles of racial disparities that are woven into the fabric of the biomedical research enterprise and that limit opportunities Link to external web site for Black scientists Link to external web site.
Institutional structures, policies, and cultures Link to external web site, including those in the biomedical research enterprise, all contribute to racial inequality and injustice. This fact was laid bare for us by the responses to the request for information (RFI) we issued in 2018 on strategies to enhance successful postdoctoral career transitions to promote faculty diversity. Respondents cited bias and discrimination—including racism—most frequently as a key barrier to postdoctoral researchers attaining independent faculty positions.
Combating sexual harassment
Sexual harassment, including gender harassment, presents an unacceptable barrier that prevents women from achieving their rightful place in science, and robs society and the scientific enterprise of diverse and critical talent. As the largest single funder of biomedical research in the world, the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) bears a responsibility to take action to put an end to this behavior. In 2019, the NIH began to bolster its policies and practices to address and prevent sexual harassment. This included new communication channels to inform the agency of instances of sexual harassment related to NIH-funded research. This week, the NIH announces a change that will hold grantee institutions and investigators accountable for this misconduct, to further foster a culture whereby sexual harassment and other inappropriate behaviors are not tolerated in the research and training environment.
Last year, an Advisory Committee to the Director (ACD) of the NIH presented a report and recommendations to end sexual harassment. A major theme of this report was the need for increased transparency and accountability in the reporting of professional misconduct, especially sexual harassment. The cases of sexual harassment that surfaced in the wake of the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) 2018 report highlighted a substantial gap in the NIH’s oversight of the research enterprise: There was no straightforward mechanism for the agency to learn of sexual harassment or other misconduct taking place at grantee institutions in the context of NIH-funded research. It was not uncommon for the NIH to discover such cases through the media, amid rightful public outcry. Holding institutions and investigators accountable for this behavior was challenging.
White Academia: Do Better.
Over the past couple of weeks, our nation has been confronted with ugly truths and hard history revealing how systemic racism rears its head in almost every space. Since the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed down our typical lifestyles, people seem to be listening.
This moment feels very different from other situations when we had to address human rights in the context of race relations in the United States. With that comes a host of emotions that White people have rarely had to deal with because of their racial privilege, and this includes White people working in academia.
Like many Black faculty, and Black people in general, I have received messages and texts from White colleagues apologizing, expressing their guilt and remorse, and asking what they can do to support their Black colleagues and friends.
Guidelines for Diversity & Inclusion in Crisis
Juan E. Gilbert, PhD
I am writing these guidelines in response to the recent events that have impacted the Black community, specifically, the Black computing community. As the Department Chair of the Computer & Information Science & Engineering (CISE) Department at the University of Florida, I lead, one of, if not, the nation’s most diverse computing sciences (CS) department. We have the nation’s most Black CS faculty and PhD students. We are one of the top CS departments for the number of female faculty. As a researcher, I have had the honor of producing the nation’s most Black/African-American CS PhDs. I have also had the honor of hiring and promoting the most Black faculty in CS. My experiences span more than 20 years and those experiences are the foundation for these guidelines.