SICB Awarded Funding for Major Cultural Change Initiative

1/4/24  The Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB) has been awarded funding from the National Science Foundation BIO-LEAPS (Leading Culture Change through Professional Societies of Biology) Program. The proposal, entitled “Strengthening Inclusion by Change in Building Equity, Diversity and Understanding (SICBEDU)” will address how SICB can better educate, train, and serve its members by developing a foundation for modeling and promoting inclusion, diversity, equity, and acceptance (IDEA) within SICB.

Primary Investigator Brian Tsukimura of California State University, Fresno, who also serves as SICB’s Treasurer-Elect, will lead the initiative along with SICB President Patricia Hernandez of George Washington University, SICB President-Elect Michele Nishiguchi of the University of California, Merced, and Susan Williams of Ohio University, who also leads SICB’s long-running broadening participation initiative.

In a joint statement, the leaders of the initiative wrote, “We are proud of SICB’s long-standing commitment to promoting and maintaining an inclusive and diverse community. Through this work, we hope to inspire recognition and dialogue among SICB members of the challenge and benefits of having a diverse and inclusive society and promote collaborative solutions-focused efforts toward change. We view this program as crucial to keep SICB on the cutting edge of scientific innovation.”

The goal of the SICBEDU initiative is to develop, pilot and assess an initial two-tiered program aimed at broadly instilling the responsibility of supporting and ensuring inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility at SICB, one of the oldest, largest, and most prestigious scientific societies for organismal biology societies. In alignment with research demonstrating that solving challenging problems benefits from diverse experiences, SICBEDU will provide an avenue that acknowledges complex problems and utilizes diverse opinions from different backgrounds to find innovative solutions to culture change. The development of a strong foundational base in IDEA principles will eventually lead to a community of stakeholders who bring values, ideas, and knowledge to solve complex scientific challenges within SICB and beyond.

SICBEDU has two major objectives: (1) Train SICB leadership in mentoring Under Represented Group membership, and (2) initiate workshops, informational booths, and socials that integrate IDEA principles throughout our society. SICB will also conduct surveys to establish its IDEA baseline and set priorities. While the immediate goal of SICBEDU is to develop programs and support within SICB to create a more welcoming and inclusive scientific society, the society hopes that it will also organically grow under-represented membership and enhance their career opportunities as future researchers within different biological disciplines. SICB views this program as crucial for facilitating the next generation of scientists to tackle innovative and interesting ideas regarding organismal biology – a recognized need to think integratively about difficult research problems that cannot be solved through a single perspective.

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