The Chemical Engineering and Materials Science department is committed to creating and maintaining an inclusive and supportive environment for all members of the department, of every race, nationality, gender/sexual identity, disability status, and religion. We continually seek ways to renew our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion within our department.
One of my favorite things about the CEMS department is the cooperative nature of our community. Together, we collaborate, share successes and disappointments, and build lasting relationships. When I joined CEMS, this supportive environment materialized immediately, and I found informal mentors and friends that made the transition to graduate school possible even as I sometimes struggled. But the true strength of our community ultimately depends not only on our successes, but on how we hold each other accountable when we need to do better. One of the ways we need to do better is dismantling institutional and internalized racism and white supremacy both within our department and in our broader community. After the murder of George Floyd here in Minneapolis, the student body, faculty, and staff formally came together to commit to this anti-racist work, codified in the faculty’s DEI statement . While there is much deep and long-term work yet to do, I am proud of our community’s willingness to reflect, to recognize where we have been complicit in racism, sexism, and other forms of discrimination, and to take meaningful, substantial action to combat such harm.Elisah Vandenbussche, Graduate Student Chair CEMS DEI Group
Coming into graduate school, I had a lot of worries: can I adjust to life in Minnesota? Will I be able to make meaningful friendships? Will I succeed? The CEMS department immediately welcomed me in and provided me with a community of students ready to connect. Our department prides itself in our strong emphasis on community, and I believe that many of those who choose to study in this department share that core value. The killing of George Floyd, right here in Minneapolis, produced a dramatic shift for me personally and for many others here in CEMS. We saw the damaging effect of racism and personal prejudice in our nation and we stood up to demand actionable change. We began grassroot DEI student and faculty groups to make this department safe for all people, especially those of marginalized and underrepresented communities. As a nation, we need to immediately address systemic racism, personal prejudice, and inclusion for all communities, and I am encouraged to see members of the CEMS community rallying together to enhance our department's climate.Amber Walton, Graduate Student Chair CEMS Students Organizing Against Racism (SOAR) Group
Graduate Student Committee
Graduate Student Committee (GSC) is a closed group of students (2 members per class) who act as liaisons between the students and the department administration. Their main function is to provide a safe, positive, and fulfilling environment for students. They often work behind the scenes to enhance the department by creating programs or events.
CEMS Women's Group
CEMS Women's Group is a collaborative effort by CEMS women and non-binary folks to advance gender equity within our department through cooperative relationships and build connections with professional women and non-binary folks in science and engineering who are currently working in industry, academia, government agencies, or national labs. Events include guest speakers, group discussions, and outreach opportunities. We seek new leadership at the end of each school year, and we actively encourage female and non-binary graduate students and postdocs to engage in and lead Women's Group events throughout the year.
CEMS Students Organizing Against Racism (SOAR) Group
CEMS Students Organizing Against Racism (SOAR) Group is a group made up of students who are passionate about building towards an anti-racist CEMS that is supportive of and welcoming to all. The group is divided into subteams devoted to Outreach, Recruitment & Retention, and Education & Evaluation and undertakes initiatives to foster equity and inclusivity among students, as well as making recommendations to the CEMS DEI Group for department-wide initiatives. More details on membership and current work can be found on the CEMS SOAR website.
Discussions and Communications
In June 2020, the CEMS faculty issued a statement responding to the murder of George Floyd here in Minneapolis, acknowledging the emotions of the community and putting forth a renewed commitment to equity and diversity in the department.
The monthly bulletin from the CEMS DEI group is intended to guide and normalize conversations around equity and inclusion for all department stakeholders. As well as updating the department on DEI group initiatives and events, it contains specific information guiding department members to consider equity and inclusivity in all aspects of their work, including in the research environment, the classroom, and in extracurricular or service activities.
Regularly updated blogposts from the CEMS Students Organizing Against Racism Group
Podcast hosted by members of the CEMS Students Organizing Against Racism Group
CEMS Grad Mentorship program
Starting in the Fall of 2020, each incoming first year graduate student will be paired with one or more current graduate students to serve as mentors to get them acclimated to the department and build connections. Students have the option of being paired based on any combination of identity, research group, future career goals, or interests and hobbies. This program is administered by the Recruitment and Retention Team on the CEMS SOAR Group.
The CEMS department regularly hosts a number of potlucks that celebrate holidays across the different cultures in the department. Past events have celebrated the Lunar New Year, Diwali and End-Of-Year potlucks.
Friday Afternoon Roundtable
At the end of each month on a early Friday evening, all graduate students and faculty are invited to an informal social gathering with food and refreshments, known as “Roundtable”.
Joint Safety Team
The Joint Safety Team (JST) is a researcher-led organization focused on improving the culture of safety in chemical laboratories at the University of Minnesota. The JST consists of all graduate student or postdoc Laboratory Safety Officers (LSOs) within the Departments of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering and Materials Science.