Action for Justice, Equity and Diversity Committee

The purpose of the AJED committee is to constantly push for and lead positive actions that support inclusive excellence in the Duke Department of Biology.

Since it was formed in 2020, the AJED committee has, in consultation with faculty, staff, and students, developed a prioritized list of self-assessment needs and immediate and long-term actions that our department will undertake to meet the goal of becoming a more just, equitable, and diverse community. The committee is empowered to recommend the creation of ad-hoc committees as required to conduct assessment activities and to carry out priority actions.

Specific Aims:

  • Visioning: AJED will help craft a vision statement and community standard that solicits input and critique from the entire department - what does Inclusive Excellence mean for a Department of Biology? Who is the department? What does inclusive excellence mean to us? What community standards are required to achieve inclusive excellence? What is the standard to which we expect ourselves to be held individually and collectively?
  • Recruiting: AJED will work to make sure we are recruiting diverse candidates for all positions in our department - Who do we reach out to? How do we reach out effectively? What inspired BIPOC faculty, students, postdocs, and staff to choose to come to Duke? What turned away potential BIPOC applicants or recruits?
  • Selection: AJED will help ensure that we are actively avoiding bias in our evaluation of candidates for staff, faculty, postdoctoral, student positions. Where are these decisions being made? How can AJED provide resources, facilitation, rubrics that best ensure Justice & Equity?
  • Support and Inclusion: AJED will be identifying those activities and actions that can best support all departmental scholars and staff in their professional lives including regular self-study of departmental climate and culture - Who is being under-served and why? What actions, standards, adjudication processes can we put in place to best ensure Justice and Equity?
  • Education: AJED will be identifying activities and actions that can help instructors learn how to acknowledge and dismantle systemic racism, sexism, and xenophobia within our courses, both in the way we structure our courses and in the content we do and do not share with our students.
  • Mentoring: How can we best acknowledge and celebrate the heterogeneous backgrounds and perspectives of our students while preparing and empowering them for their professional lives?
  • Promotion and Awards: AJED will ensure that all procedures for promoting and rewarding scholarship, teaching, and service efforts are conducted without internal systemic bias while also taking into account the effects of systemic bias on how members of underrepresented groups are perceived and rewarded externally.
  • In every category: How are our attitudes, behaviors, procedures helping and not helping us in achieving our Vision of Inclusive Excellence? AJED cannot take all of this on as a single committee. Instead, the AJED committee is being asked to serve as the conscience of our department. There are DEI components to the charge for every existing faculty committee. Our graduate-student-led IDEA committee has submitted a petition listing the desired changes. Our University has made strong recommendations for supporting Ph.D. students.

AJED 2023-2024 Committee Members

  • Nina Sherwood (Chair of AJED), Associate Professor of the Practice
  • François Lutzoni, Professor
  • Jill Foster, Assistant to the Director of Undergraduate Studies
  • Yochebed Woldeyohannes, Undergraduate
  • David Su, Undergraduate
  • Colby Cheshire, Undergraduate
  • Paul Magwene, Professor
  • Steve Nowicki, Professor, Associate Chair
  • Kathleen Miglia, Lab Administrator
  • Rossie Clark-Cotton, Postdoctoral Fellow
  • Lucia Strader, Professor
  • Alison Hill (Assistant Chair of AJED), Senior Lecturer
  • Mar Martinez-Pastor, Senior Research Scientist
  • Scott La Greca, Data Manager
  • Kathleen Miglia, Lab Administrator
  • Natalie Kerr, Assistant Research Professor
  • Lotus Lofgren, Postdoctoral Fellow
  • Carl Manner III, Graduate Student
  • Nadeesha Perera, Instructor B
  • Dan McShea, Professor
  • Jessica Harrell, Director, Undergraduate Research Support Office
  • Alyssa Perz, Director of the Health Professions Advising Office 
  • Aeran Coughlin, Graduate Student, IDEA Co-Chair
  • Ze-Yi Han, Graduate Student
  • Amy Schmid, Director of Graduate Studies

Ex officio member

  • Emily Bernhardt, Professor and Chair of the Department of Biology