Past research by Hofsta et al. (2020) has shown that, although those who are underrepresented in science exhibit higher rates of scientific novelty, their contributions are often devalued or not considered (https://www.pnas.org/content/117/17/9284). The Hinton lab stands firmly against such unjust stratification. We recognize that diversity promotes innovation, and we seek to build a diverse team. To keep pace with ground-breaking discoveries and innovations needed to advance science and medicine, research requires not only ingenuity, hard work, and commitment to training the next generation of scientists but also a commitment to engaging and retaining future Persons Excluded from science because of Ethnicity and Race (PEERs), or underrepresented individuals, and current PEER scientists’ interest in science. Supporting thoughtful commitment and enthusiasm to create a setting that is welcoming and nurturing across cultures is needed to introduce more minoritized individuals throughout the research continuum. Recognizing the underappreciated yet important contributions made by PEER scientists, the Hinton lab seeks to revitalize this pipeline at every level.
The Hinton lab invites candidates from underserved and underrepresented minority backgrounds to apply to join our laboratory. We also provide a safe environment for students where unique voices are given the chance to be heard and provide training for becoming a dynamic, goal-oriented leader. Furthermore, we train everyone in the laboratory to be an effective, proactive mentor to others in the lab and in their future professional or academic pursuits.
The Hinton lab recognizes the importance of early exposure to science for these underrepresented individuals. We seek to improve diversity at every experience level. These efforts include supporting local Historically Black Colleges and Universities by inviting their students to conduct summer research in my laboratory, welcoming post-baccalaureate students or Bridges to Doctorate students to our group and training an mentees from an array of diverse academic levels and backgrounds. For younger audiences, we record e-learning videos that we post online so K–12 schools around the country with mainly minoritized populations can access these resources to help increase STEM opportunities for their students.
Per our DEI statement, we are committed to fostering and building equality in academia and STEMM fields to create an environment where everyone, regardless of background, can thrive and feel accepted. However, equity today requires more than a diversity statement; it requires action. We work toward this goal in many ways, such as:
We have DEI Fridays to embrace other cultures to ultimately have a more well-rounded academic community in our lab. DEI Fridays allow for us to come together and discuss our difference, learn about others culture and traditions, and discuss the newest research done in the STEM education, DEI, and stem outreach space.
We lead discussions about anti-racism in the Hinton lab group regularly through work on DEI research.
We practice intentional and holistic mentoring.
We provide an opportunity to have one additional weekly journal club specific to DEI and literature about mentoring.
We volunteer by participating in weekend STEMM education events in the community.
We encourage professional development and career development, in addition to scientific research.
We acknowledge that the land on which Vanderbilt University lies is the ancestral land of the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, Shawnee, and other Native peoples who were forcefully removed to Oklahoma in the Indian Removal Act of 1830. We honor the elders, past and present, for the stewardship of this land.