Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Life Sciences & DEI

UCLA Life Sciences has been leading the way towards a more inclusive educational environment.

In 2011, Life Sciences Diversity Advisory Committee (DAC), comprised of Life Sciences faculty, as well as members to represent post-doctoral scholars and graduate students, was assembled to advise the dean on actions that would promote a more inclusive culture in Life Sciences, starting with undergraduate education.

In its first year, the committee advised the dean to establish a new strategy for hiring top research scientists: the Mentor Professor Initiative. This initiative would recruit professors who are not only at the forefront of ground-breaking research, but who are also committed to mentoring students from diverse backgrounds. While it started in Life Sciences, this has become a model for faculty recruitment, not just at UCLA, but across UC campuses. Through the Mentor Professor Initiative, over a dozen Mentor Professors have been hired in the Division of Life Sciences.

In 2012, the DAC advised the dean to require all Life Sciences faculty members to submit their “Contributions to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI)”– a document listing their recent contributions to promoting DEI– as part of their promotion process. This was not required by UCLA policy at the time, but it is now.

In 2014, Life Sciences’ dean and Erin Sanders (who was then-faculty in microbiology, immunology, and molecular genetics) took the lead in establishing the Center for Education Innovation & Learning in the Sciences (CEILS).  Since its establishment, CEILS has been a driving force in improving undergraduate education in the sciences.

Focus for Our DEI Efforts

Students in lab

The Life Sciences Anti-Racism Task Force explored five key themes to focus DEI efforts:

Culture and Climate

All members of our community, and particularly faculty, need to build a deeper understanding of the real-life challenges faced by our students from diverse and marginalized backgrounds. To this end, we need to develop tools and resources to foster inclusive student success. We also need to reduce and diminish hierarchies within Life Sciences and re-evaluate the power dynamics implicit in our norms and move towards becoming more actively anti-racist.

Recruitment and Diversity

How can we enhance diversity among students, postdocs, staff, and faculty? We can increase diversity within our recruitment pools and by better-supporting the success of diverse individuals once they join our community.

Mentorship and Training

We must improve mentorship of BIPOC students, postdocs, and faculty– to better support their success. Discussions around the training of faculty and staff could help catalyze this change. And while there are multiple successful programs within Life Sciences that are focused on increasing the pipeline of BIPOC students into STEM careers, impact of these programs would be maximized if there was better integration and coordination of these programs.


We need quantitative and qualitative tools, and metrics, to understand where we now stand to support the success of BIPOC individuals within Life Sciences, and to track and evaluate the impact of anti-racism efforts, so we can refine strategies for maximum effect.

Funding and Resources

We need to evaluate how current resources are allocated in ways that advance anti-racism. We should highlight opportunities to leverage extramural funding that supports BIPOC students, and incentivize significant engagement in activities that help develop anti-racism within Life Sciences specifically, and UCLA more broadly.


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