Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

The Tetrad program is firmly committed to increasing diversity at every level and cultivating a community where equity and inclusion are valued and supported. We believe both that this is a moral imperative and that a diverse community is the strongest and most creative. As a training program in a public institution in one of our most diverse states, we aim to ensure that our trainees reflect the racial and ethnic composition of the general population. About fifteen years ago, the program recognized the need for active measures to increase diversity in our student population. We have therefore worked for many years to constantly improve our efforts to identify, recruit, and retain students from underrepresented groups. As a result of these efforts, entering Tetrad classes in the recent past have consistently had high percentages of students from underrepresented groups (2015: 27%; 2016: 38%; 2017: 44%; 2018: 25%; 2019: 33%, 2020: 55%).

At the same time, we recognize that we need to do much more. For example, Black and Indigenous students are still severely underrepresented in Tetrad. Additionally, frank discussions with trainees have indicated that the BIPOC community, and in particular Black and Indigenous trainees, still face large barriers to entering a research career and to having an inclusive and training experience.

Below we summarize our DEI efforts as well as planned future efforts aimed at making the Tetrad a welcoming and generative program for all students.

Tetrad DEI Initiatives in Operation

Outreach

Tetrad is an active participant in the three outreach activities that make diverse students aware of the opportunities for graduate study at UCSF:

1. Long-term relationships with universities serving BIPOC students. Outreach visits to recruit students enrolled in programs with the goal developing a diverse pool of biomedical scientists (ie. MARC, RISE, IMSD) at all University of California (UC) and most California State Universities (CSU). This effort is coordinated by Tetrad faculty member Carol Gross, and Tetrad faculty and students annually participate in outreach visits.

2. A presence at national meetings that foster the success of BIPOC students. Tetrad faculty and students routinely participate in representing UCSF at ABRCMS and SACNAS Annual Conferences.Tetrad sponsors registration for 1-2 students and 1 fauclty member to attend each meeting annually.

3. Summer Research Training Program. UCSF’s major outreach program to recruit historically marginalized students to basic science PhD programs. Undergraduate students selected for the Summer Research Training Program (SRTP) spend up to 10 weeks working with UCSF faculty members on research projects. Participants in the program take part in seminars, lectures, and social events, creating a cohesive and supportive community. At the end of the program, students give presentations of their research and get valuable feedback from students, postdocs, and faculty at UCSF. Tetrad Faculty routinely participate as hosts and mentors in the Program and SRTP graduates have a high rate of success gaining admissions to PhD programs at UCSF including Tetrad.

Admissions and Recruitment

1. Holistic admission review. Our admissions committee process that includes paying attention to “distance traveled” in terms of accomplishments. We care as much about what applicants have accomplished as what it took to get there. GRE scores are no longer required. Close attention is also paid to the personal statement and recommendation letters to understand the challenges that applicants may have been faced with.

2. Participation in Diversity Network Initiative. The Diversity Network Initiative is a Graduate-Division program with the goal of connecting prospective students with current students with common identities (e.g., veteran status, first-gen, gender identity, race/ethnicity, etc.) to allow applicants to learn about other underrepresented students’ experiences in graduate school and more specifically at UCSF. The Tetrad Program invites all applicants who have been invited for interviews to participate in the Program. Regardless of whether applicants choose to attend UCSF or not, this opportunity will expand applicants’ professional networks and enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion within STEM and higher education.

This program was developed by Tetrad PhD Candidate, Roberto Efraín Díaz, and Assistant Dean for Diversity and Learner Success, Dr. D'Anne Duncan.

3. Diversity and Allyship Breakfast. We encourage all applicants who have been invited for an interview to register for the Diversity and Allyship Breakfast, co-hosted by the Graduate Division Dean's Office and the UCSF SACNAS Chapter, during the interview visit. Graduate students and the diversity dean serve as panelists to discuss the climate at UCSF, and campus DEI resources, such as the IMSD program, are highlighted. 

This breakfast was created by Tetrad alum Joselyn Del Cid and Biomedical Sciences alum Raul Torres, and further developed by Biomedical Sciences alum Melissa Spear, Biomedical Sciences PhD Candidate Ramiro Patiño, Tetrad PhD Candidate Roberto Efraín Díaz, and Assistant Dean for Diversity and Learner Success, Dr. D'Anne Duncan.

Inclusion and Retention

1. Connecting through Storytelling Workshop at the Tetrad retreat. This event focuses on storytelling as a means to foster an inclusive mindset within our community. Students and faculty share personal stories about life both within and outside of science, allowing listeners can gain different perspectives and hear about experiences that they would otherwise feel far-removed from. An additional student only version of this workshop typically coincides with Tetrad specific orientation events for entering students.

This workshop was developed by Tetrad PhD candidates Gabriela Canales and Elise Muñoz with the support and assistance of Dr. D'Anne Duncan.

2. Diversity Seminar Series Collaboration with ASGD. Tetrad and the Basic Science Seminar committee are working with the The Associated Students of the Graduate Division (ASGD) to increase representation of speakers from diverse backgrounds in the Basic Science Seminar Series. Faculty invited under this collaboration are invited to stay an extra day to share stories of their journey in science, in the context of a lunch talk with students.

This collaboration was spearheaded by Tetrad PhD candidates and current ASGD officers, Evelyn Hernandez and Gabriela Canales.

3. Student Mentorship Lunch. Developed in response to student feedback, Tetrad offers a workshop lead by current students for entering students on how to choose rotation labs and tips for surviving your first year. This event is held twice a year, once before rotation choices in Fall and once before Rotation choices in Winter. Student facilitators represent various levels of experience in the Program (Year 3+), as well as diverse scientific and personal identities.

4. Weekly check-ins with 1st year students.  Program Directors began checking in weekly with 1st year students (and inviting 1:1 check ins) once the stay-at-home orders started in San Francisco. Check ins continued until all students chose and were settled into their thesis labs.

5. Mentorship training for faculty. In 2019, faculty mentoring a second or third year Tetrad student were asked to take mentorship trainings that included DEI issues.

6. Buddy System for incoming students (began Fall 2020). The goal of the Buddy System is to pair an incoming student with an existing student to help ease the entry of new students into the program, help them form and maintain a connection to Tetrad social activities, discuss various stressors associated with grad school and help connect them with other students, faculty and UCSF resources.

The Buddy System was developed by Tetrad students Elizabeth Bond and Jessica Mella.

7. Student Training (began Fall 2020). As of Fall 2020 incoming first year students participate in Tetrad’s Community Circle and take Racism in Science (GRAD 202) in their first year.

8. DEI Book Club. The DEI Book Club focuses on the experiences of people from traditionally marginalized communities in STEM and in academia. The goal of this book club is to center marginalized people and their experiences, and examine how we can create an inclusive environment for everyone. Books are provided to all first and second year Tetrad students.

2019 selection: The Autobiography of a Transgender Scientist by Ben Barres
2020 selection: Real Life by Brandon Taylor

This book club was developed by Tetrad PhD Candidate Roberto Efraín Díaz in collaboration with Tetrad faculty members James Fraser and Sy Redding with funding from an HHMI Gilliam Fellowship. Tetrad faculty members David Booth, Abigail Buchwalter, Stephen Floor, and Dyche Mullins have served as discussion facilitators.

Tetrad Future Planned DEI Initiatives

1. Transparency and Sharing of Values.

a. A new website is being assembled that will include the following additions:

  • Mission statement and vision of Tetrad Program that explicitly includes an explicit commitment to DEI
  • Details on DEI outreach and inclusion activities
  • Mentorship and DEI trainings done (with dates) by faculty added under each faculty description
  • Link to student handbook for current students

b. Tetrad leadership plans to have “State of the Program” townhall annually every Fall, where topics such as admissions outcomes, DEI program updates, student fellowships, papers and career outcomes will be summarized and shared. Students and faculty will also get a chance to ask questions. The first such townhall is scheduled for October 23, 2020.

2. Faculty Training.
Require all faculty who have Tetrad student(s) in their lab to take the DEI Champion’s training within the first year of taking the student into their lab and then to take at least one additional training per year thereafter. This is currently being discussed in collaboration with the Tetrad Executive Committee and the Graduate Division.

3. Educating the Community.
We aim to add at least one slot per year for a speaker who is conducting academic research on racism in society to the Basic Science seminar series.

4. Use of Training Progress Assessment Rubric (TPA).
An impetus for developing this rubric arose from student feedback requesting clarity of expectations as a means to increase inclusivity. This rubric recognizes that a “one-size-fits-all” set of metrics for evaluation is counterproductive given the creative and unpredictable nature of a thesis project and the diverse academic and socio-economic backgrounds of our students. The rubric is expected to help identify (i) gaps in training, so these can be bridged, and (ii) unique strengths, so these can be fostered. Overall this rubric serves as a formative assessment tool by providing a framework for conversations between mentors and mentees. To develop this rubric, Tetrad teamed up with Dr. Laurence Clement, Director of Research in Career Education at UCSF’s Office of Career and Professional Development (OCPD).

5. Faculty Code of Conduct and Accountability.
a. In collaboration with all basic science PhD programs Develop a Faculty Code of Conduct that articulates expectations for faculty conduct, describes faculty mentor training requirements, and specifies consequences for non-compliance. Post policy on graduate program websites and require faculty to attest to the policy annually.

b. Any faculty found to be non-compliant, which automatically includes faculty in violation of Title VII and Title IX rules, will be removed from the Tetrad program immediately. Students currently in the lab may be allowed to continue but the faculty member will not be allowed to take any new students or participate in other program activities.

c. Tetrad is in the process of developing and posting intervention strategies to deal with student/faculty issues, so that students will know who to contact for help as soon as an issue arises, and faculty will have a well-defined process to follow.