Keystone Symposia Blog

DLSP Director’s Corner (Include Issue 4)

Irelene Ricks

In this time of political turmoil in the U.S., it is probably a good idea to consider the role of politics on biomedical scientific research. Does it make a difference to the science community which political party is in control of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue or Capitol Hill? These are issues we examine in Policy Talk. We also have comments about science diversity in a podcast called “The Politics of Science” from Diversity Advisory Committee (DAC) member Angela Sharpe, who serves as Deputy Director of the Consortium of Social Science Associations (COSSA) and leads the Collaborative for Enhancing Diversity in Science (CEDS) in Washington, D.C. Since the November 2016 election, violence has plagued our cities, schools, and postsecondary institutions. We’ll examine how to maintain science diversity within this transition from shared power (i.e., a Democratic President and Republican House and Senate) to a consolidation of Republican political power. Will these changes impact our biggest funders of scientific research and talent development, such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF), or will it be business as usual?

This issue of INCLUDE also provides a profile of 2017 Keystone Symposia Fellow (KSF) Dr. Veronica Segarra, assistant professor at High Point University in North Carolina. A graduate of Yale University, Dr. Segarra enjoys balancing her ongoing research interests with the demands of a teaching-focused university. She shares ideas of how highly trained research faculty can have a significant impact on the development of next-gen trainees who are learning science at academic institutions that are not research intensive.

Over the past year, the Diversity in Life Science Programs (DLSP) has emphasized collaboration with members of the KSF community. We have three excellent examples that involve teaching, learning, and writing.

Teaching. Lindsey Trevino (KSF Class of 2016) and Digna Velez Edwards (KSF Class of 2013) served as guest lecturers on health disparities research for an annual course hosted by the HDEART Consortium at UT-Health Science Center at Houston. The HDEART Consortium is comprised of 40 universities and biomedical organizations, including Howard University, Texas A&M University College Station, Baylor College of Medicine – and now Keystone Symposia, its newest partner. Trevino and Edwards share what this experience meant for them as researchers and Keystone Symposia Fellows.

Learning. At the invitation of KSF Dana Crawford (Class of 2010), KSFs from different cohorts (Jonathan Deane, KSF 2011; Preston Campbell, KSF 2017; and Leslie Caromile, KSF 2016) were provided travel awards by Case Western Reserve University to attend a symposium honoring the legacy of Henrietta Lacks. Crawford provides photos of that shared KSF experience.

Writing. A new article examining the status of workforce diversity in the field of immunology has been published online by Nature Reviews in Immunology. The article, “Prime–boost strategies to embrace diversity and inclusion in immunology“ was co-authored by Cherie Butts (KSF Class of 2009, Biogen), Avery August (chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Cornell University) and yours truly (DLSP Director). The article exposes that although progress has been made to increase diversity in the immunology workforce, there is much left to accomplish to produce and sustain a viable pool of underrepresented (UR) scientists in the field of immunology.

We hope you enjoy this issue of INCLUDE. Questions or comments? Please send them to me at


Be well. Mentor strong.











Director of Diversity, Life Sciences Keystone Symposia on Molecular and Cellular Biology

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