Diversity & Inclusion Committee
On this page you will find: What is the role of the iGEM Diversity & Inclusion Committee? and Meet the D&I Committee Members!.
What is the role of the iGEM Diversity & Inclusion Committee?
The Diversity and Inclusion Committee works with the iGEM Foundation to promote diversity and foster inclusion within the iGEM community.
Inspired by the 2013 Paris Bettencourt iGEM team’s extensive evaluation of gender diversity within iGEM, the committee was initially formed to focus on improving gender inclusivity.
- Over the following years, the committee used targeted initiatives such as active recruitment and an open application process to improve gender diversity among iGEM judges (i.e. 50% female and non-binary judges in 2018).
- We provided accommodations and created a more inclusive environment for participants at the annual iGEM Giant Jamboree, for example, through designating gender-neutral restrooms and lactation rooms and offering childcare services. We have also worked with iGEM HQ to clarify and distribute anti-harassment policies at the jamboree.
- We have consulted with iGEM teams to discuss and improve gender-sensitive issues in their projects, for example, through using representative and inclusive language in their surveys.
Motivated by the positive impact of these successful efforts, the mission of our committee has expanded to address diversity and inclusion in iGEM across all contexts. These contexts include, but are not limited to: age, ethnicity, disability, gender, religion, and economic status.
New and upcoming efforts led by the D&I Committee reflect this broader mission.
- We have continued to support the diverse iGEM population and promote the inclusion of underrepresented communities. At the 2019 Giant Jamboree, we hosted an LGBTQ+ Meetup, ran an “LGBTQ+ in STEM” panel and workshop, and encouraged the use of inclusive language through a “make your own pronoun badge” station.
- Our committee and iGEM Headquarters have worked to provide suitable accommodations for special requests during the Giant Jamboree. Visit the Giant Jamboree website for a full list of available accessibility accommodations; if you or your team has any needs beyond these, please contact iGEM diversity AT igem DOT org.
- We are working to better understand diversity and representation in iGEM through collection and analysis of annual iGEM-wide participation surveys. You can view current diversity-related statistics from 2018 here.
- We are showcasing and recognizing iGEM teams that do exceptional work to increase diversity and promote inclusivity through their own efforts. You can read inspirational highlights about a few previous teams here.
We welcome all feedback from you - the iGEM community - about how we can continue to improve diversity and help make iGEM as inclusive as possible. Please contact us at diversity AT igem DOT org.
Meet the Diversity & Inclusion Committee Members
The Diversity & Inclusion Committee works with the iGEM Foundation to provide guidance on gender issues and other areas related to inclusivity. Our members are a diverse group of people who are interested in diversity in synthetic biology and beyond.
University of Rochester
Anne is a synthetic biologist who uses bacteria to create advanced materials, sometimes with our home-built 3D bacteria printer. She has been an iGEM advisor and judge since 2011.
Divya is a Biomedical Engineering PhD Candidate at Boston University. She has participated in iGEM since 2012 as a team member, instructor, and judge. Divya is actively involved in Graduate Women in Science & Engineering organizations to support and promote women in STEM. She seeks to identify innovative ways to increase representation and build inclusive communities.
Georgia State University
Christina is a senior biology major with a concentration in biochemistry. After becoming VP of the Synthetic Biology Club at Georgia State, Christina made it her mission to make the world of research as is pertains to synthetic biology accessible to all. She is a member of 2 premedical organizations on campus, 3 research organizations and finds time to be in 2 social organizations on campus. Of Haitian descent, Christina loves to go to Haiti where she volunteers with medical assistance and educational opportunities in local communities. Her volunteer work serves as the foundation of her passion to inform and educate all people, especially people of color, that the world of science is for everyone.
Alba Iglesias Vilches
Alba is a PhD candidate at Newcastle University, where she applies Synthetic Biology approaches for the discovery of novel bioactive compounds. She has been involved in iGEM as student, advisor, instructor and judge.
Landon is a PhD Candidate at Dalhousie University studying the environmental survival and pathogenesis of the bacteria Vibrio parahaemolyticus. Landon also has a keen interest in bioethics and the social responsibility of science. As a gay man, Landon is invested in diversity and inclusion initiatives to ensure fair and equitable spaces for LGBTQ+ folks and other underrepresented minorities.
Asal is a genetics graduate with a passion for science communication, policy and bioethics, which she developed through her participation in Cardiff's 2016 iGEM team. Alongside synthetic biology, her previous projects involve pedagogy, classification, and epigenetics. She spent a year working with microscopic worms at Warwick, and still has a soft spot for nematodes. She also loves poetry, tea and bad sit-coms.
Arizona State University
Alyssa is a graduate student at Arizona State University who is working on an interdisciplinary dissertation in the Biological Design Ph.D. program and ASU's science and technology policy certificate program. She is also involved in the student government as the Director of Advocacy for the ASU Graduate and Professional Student Association.
University of Edinburgh
Louise and her group research the use of synthetic biology to valorise wastes. She teaches synthetic biology to postgraduate students and has integrated iGEM participation into the taught MSc programme at Edinburgh.
Cibele Zolnier S. do Nascimento
University of São Paulo
Cibele is an undergraduate student in Biochemical Engineering at the University of São Paulo. Passionate about science in general, she believes in its promotion for the general community and on the solution of environmental and human problems through it. As the former VP of Synthetic Biology Club of USP-EEL, she actively works on the dissemination of the scientific knowledge that is many times kept only inside laboratories. She attended on iGEM for the first time in 2018, as the team leader of her group. Currently, she is helping as instructor of the new team from the University.
University College London
Darren Nesbeth is a synthetic biologist in the Department of Biochemical Engineering at University College London (UCL). Darren has been Chair of the 'Athena Scientific Women's Academic Network' (AthenaSWAN) committee for UCL Biochemical Engineering from 2012-2019. As Chair he coordinated a broad range of events and practical steps to foster a culture that supports students and staff of all genders, ethnicities, beliefs, sexual orientation, levels of disability, and intersections thereof, to realise their full potential, irrespective of marital status, age or parenthood status.
Peivand Sadat Mousavi
University of Toronto
Peivand is a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto where she uses synthetic biology to make molecular diagnostics. Her love for synthetic biology initiated from three years of iGEM experience during her undergraduate studies at University of Waterloo where she also led a Women in Science program in her final year. She is passionate about mentorship and increasing visibility of scientists with different levels of disabilities and sexual orientation. Currently she volunteers for a high school mentorship program and helps organizing a Women Leadership book club at her department.
V. Anne Smith
University of St Andrews
Anne is a computational biologist, who concentrates on studying biological networks across multiple levels of organisation, from genes, to brains, to ecosystems. She is heavily involved in undergraduate teaching and curriculum development. She supervised St Andrews first iGEM teams in 2010-2012, and has been involved in a recent revival of iGEM at St Andrews.
University of Poitiers
After a PhD on monoclonal antibodies production in France and a post-doc at UCLA on molecular cloning of trp channels, Brigitte is a cellular and molecular biologist working on mechanisms of cancer at the University of Poitiers, France. She was an iGEM Judge in 2018 and is an iGEM advisor in 2019.