Prioritizing Diversity

The underrepresentation of minorities and women in STEM fields remains a major challenge for the US workforce. The Department of Astronomy is proactively addressing the disparity between its institutional make-up and that of the national demographic. To remedy the imbalance, we first recognize the subjectivity of traditional application review processes and then embrace alternative pathways to academic success. We will bring greater creativity and the greatest minds to our fields by monitoring trends and by employing more effective strategies for recruiting faculty and evaluating student applications.

The Department of Astronomy supports at least two programs that target people of color and women in the astronomical sciences. Each program below is shored up by culture that promotes civic literacy across the Center for Astrophysics (CfA) and emphasizes research, social justice education, and community building. Programs like these sharpen the outlook of scientific research and exploration because innovation thrives in communities that are more diverse—not more elite.

Banneker & Aztlán Institutes Summer Program (Undergraduates)

  • 10-week research and study experience
  • Social justice education: literature review, guest speakers, group and panel discussions, community building
  • Classes, workshops, seminars
  • Professional training: programming, astrostatistics, computational astronomy
  • Collaboration with postdocs of the Harvard ExoLab
  • Includes housing, stipend, and travel reimbursement
  • Personal enrichment

Fellowship for Future Faculty Leaders (PhDs)

  • 3-year independent research project
  • Training, preparation for postdoctoral and faculty opportunities
  • Contributions to field research
  • Teaching, mentoring, advising, and public outreach
  • Personal enrichment


1Nelson, D. "UC Davis ADVANCE." A National Analysis of Minorities in Science and Engineering Faculties at Reasearch Universities. UC Davis, 4 Jan. 2010.
210 of 61 PhD candidates (all years). Excludes students identifying as multi-racial (4 of 61).
326 of 61 PhD candidates (all years).