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Promoting Equity, Diversity and Belonging in the Department of Microbiology.

I am proud to be part of an institution that is committed to justice and equity.  It is inspiring to see the support, programs and investments we are making to improve communication, understanding and a sense of belonging for all.  We sincerely hope that through honest conversations and sustained changes in our community and society, we can work to reverse historical biases and inequities.

Our aim is to build the Department of Microbiology to reflect the diversity of our nation.  We appreciate the value of diverse voices and perspectives.  When diversity is nurtured in an inclusive community, we broaden and enrich our approaches to problem solving.  This in turn creates an incubator for innovation and creativity, two essential components of achieving excellence in our programs and research.  Therefore justice, equity and inclusion are central values of our community.  Here I reaffirm our commitment to confronting any action that opposes or suppresses these core values.  We will not tolerate overt bias (see resources below) and have begun to build lines of communication to reveal and confront racism as well as other inappropriate behavior.  Further, we strive to educate our community members to help them recognize and reverse more subtle expressions of bias and to overcome systemic structural inequities. 

Under the guidance of our Department Leader for Diversity and Inclusion (D&I), we have begun regular meetings of our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Council.  This group of dedicated students, staff and faculty are developing programming to improve communication, enhance community engagement, and provide tools for us to develop our voice and challenge discrimination in all of its forms.  Their efforts will elevate discourse on equity while evaluating Department climate and progress.

We are proud of our ongoing initiatives to enhance diversity:

  • We appointed a Department D&I Leader and support his efforts in assembling and guiding our DEI Council.
  • We have refined our approaches to recruiting candidates for Microbiology faculty and staff positions by developing more diverse applicant pools.We have shared our best practices with others at Cornell.
  • We promote the Microbiology graduate program broadly to students through SACNAS, and the Diversity Preview Weekend.
  • A new orientation program for incoming Microbiology graduate students has been developed.This program is designed to inform new students about resources and our commitment to building an inclusive community.
  • We have and will continue to host regular workshops to improve community understanding of diverse views.

We realize that we still have a lot to accomplish!  Some of our future objectives include:

  • Initiating a Belonging program in Microbiology to improve the strength of our community by highlighting all members’ accomplishments.
  • Making diverse voices outside of Cornell heard and recognized. We have committed to purposefully improve the diversity of Microbiology seminar speakers. We will invite leading scientists to share their research accomplishments and their personal stories with our students.
  • Developing a safe space and time to talk about issues of concern.We will organize and host monthly sessions for discussion of Diversity and Inclusion issues and personal experiences.
  • Dedicating time in Departmental meetings, such as the Microbiology Journal Club, to critically examine studies of inequity and bias in our discipline.


Ian Hewson (ih88), Microbiology D&I Leader.  Ian is our point of contact to facilitate dialog and provide resources to improve diversity, equity and inclusiveness.  Look for emails from Ian on current opportunities.

The DEI Council  can be reached by email to voice your concerns, ideas for initiatives, and access resources.

Cornell University’s Office of Institutional Equity and Title IX.  If you feel you have been subject to sexual harassment, bias or discrimination, consider contacting our Title IX Office . Their staff is available for advice and have the means to investigate harassment claims.

If you prefer confidential advice and access to services, please consult this list of confidential resources available to our community.

Reaching our goal of an equitable future will be a long, hard battle.  Sacrifices and changes in our outlook and attitudes must be made as values of equity, justice, and inclusion are centered in our policies and practices.  We are confronting deeply rooted issues that permeate our society.  Sometimes when we confront a barrier this large and ominous, we can get discouraged and may think, what can a single voice do?  I want to assure you that every voice counts.  Merge your voice with others by getting involved in your community, by registering and voting in elections.  Remember, we are in a privileged position.  With our actions and words, we can change the way scientific endeavors operate.  As part of an institution of higher education, we can engage, enlighten and empower the next generation of leaders.  Let’s engage in, not avoid, conversations confronting bias and inequity, so we can make justice a reality.  Let’s commit to building a more diverse and inclusive community of leaders and scholars.  Please contact us with ideas and if you want to be involved in our programs.

With hope for a better future,

Esther Angert

Chair of Microbiology

The Department of Microbiology acknowledges that Cornell University's Ithaca campus is located on the traditional homelands of the Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫ’ (the Cayuga Nation). The Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫ’ are members of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, an alliance of six sovereign Nations with a historic presence on this land. The Confederacy precedes the establishment of Cornell University, New York State, and the United States of America. We acknowledge the painful history of Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫ’ dispossession, and honor the ongoing connection of Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫ’ people, past and present, to these lands and waters. We encourage all who engage with us to learn more about the Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫ’, their history, and people, and to take meaningful action to support indigenous scholars and their communities.