Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Leadership Showcase

The 2024 Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Leadership Showcase awards recognize the many DEI-focused contributions of CSE students, faculty, staff, and postdocs in the areas of advocacy, volunteer work, and engagement that have a positive impact on CSE, the University, and the Twin Cities communities through DEI initiatives.

Event details

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Leadership Showcase Awards
Wednesday, April 24, 2024

The keynote speaker was Mohamed Sallam, President and CEO of Wallin Education Partners, a leading college and career success nonprofit that supports students from low-income backgrounds.

Watch the Leadership Showcase Awards Program keynote speaker and awards presentation video!

2024 award recipients

CSE Postdoctoral Award

  • Onyinyechukwu Justina OziriMechanical Engineering 
    "Onyinyechukwu Justina Oziri stepped up and organized events including workshops, community building between mechanical engineering faculty and postdocs, and networking environments within the department and with biomedical engineering. Through her efforts, the Department of Mechanical Engineering developed a training environment where their postdocs experience a diverse, equitable, and inclusive climate."

CSE Faculty Awards

  • Lee Penn, Chemistry
    "Lee Penn has been instrumental in advocating for marginalized individuals within CSE, conducting workshops on key issues like intersectionality, bullying, and implicit bias. Additionally, in their efforts to promote STEM education among students from diverse backgrounds, they actively contribute to the Energy and U program, engaging thousands of elementary school children in science outreach annually."
  • Maria Gini, Computer Science
    "Maria Gini's numerous DEI efforts have ranged from receiving grants to provide graduate fellowships to increase diversity in Computer Science, to serving on the national board of the Computing Research Association for Widening Participation, to being a supporter of the NSF Grad4US program, a national program from NSF that provides competitive 3-year fellowships to students who left academia with a Bachelor's or Master's degree and want to return for a Ph.D. in Computer Science. She further proves her commitment to DEI by having the most diverse group of PhD students in her Department."
  • Mechanical Engineering Ambassadors Faculty (Nichole Morris, Natasha Wright, Al Aksan)Mechanical Engineering
    "The Mechanical Engineering Ambassadors Faculty made up by Professors Al Aksan, Nichole Morris, and Natasha Wright envisioned, developed, and support the Mechanical Engineering Ambassadors program, which creates and delivers hands-on STEM activities to K-6 grade students at local schools (identified by the fraction of students on free or reduced lunch). The aim of the Mechanical Engineering Ambassador program is to foster love and confidence in engineering, before the age students typically determine if they will pursue STEM, i.e., 4th grade, with the goal to increase diversity in Mechanical Engineering."

CSE Staff Awards

  • Lindsey Fischer, CSE Dean's Office
    "Lindsey Fisher has been key to the momentum of the CSE Diversity & Inclusivity Alliance Lead Team as well as two of its action teams. Beyond that -  in Fall 2023 she organized new member recruitment during orientation and shepherded Alliance co-sponsorship of HeForSWE's event; and in Spring 2024 she helped create the Psychological Safety Playbook Zero-Prep Book Clubs and helped the DEI Leadership Showcase raise scholarships."
  • Miriam Krause, Chemistry and the Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology
    "Miriam Krause has gone above and beyond serving as the Director of Education, Outreach, & Diversity for the Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology. In the Chemistry D&I Committee, she helped develop the new strategic plan in Fall 2023. She provides mentorship, support, and advice around DEI work in STEM and that is the kind of work that truly leads to a more inclusive climate in the CSE, one person and one action at a time."
  • Calla Brose, CSE Student Services
    "Calla Brose has amplified her impact as Student Engagement and DEI Coordinator in a multitude of ways. She has supported Presidential Emerging Scholars, mentorship programming, outreach to underrepresented groups, planning for CSE Week, overseeing STEM Diversity Living Learning Community, and being key to new programming for first generation college students, for CSE Pride Week, and for Black History Month."
  • Ellen Puffe, CSE Dean's Office
    "Ellen Puffe leads communication for the CSE Diversity & Inclusivity Alliance, creating newsletters and web content to spread diversity, equity, and inclusion news throughout CSE.  She helped initiate the Inclusion Summit, and maintains the momentum of Cool Ideas programming - and she now also assists CSE Project Inclusion too!"

CSE Student Organization Award

  • Society of Women Engineers
    "The Society of Women Engineers has a large presence in the College of Science & Engineering at the University overall and is dedicated to empowerment, inclusivity, and representation. With over 370 students attending one or more of their on average 4 events per week in the fall semester, this group has focused on fostering an inclusive experience through mentorship programs, allyship education and events, and data-driven feedback. This year the group is celebrating its 50th anniversary and, in the words of their nominator, "has helped pave the way for a brighter and more inclusive future in science and engineering."

CSE Graduate Student Awards

  • Alexander Umanzor, Chemistry
    "Alexander Umanzor has a passion for connecting students with underrepresented communities with role models and mentors that share identities. He organized the first CSE Distinguished Scientist Seminar hosted by the Department of Chemistry. Alex also hosted a BIPOC roundtable for students to connect with peers as well as an event to help students learn about Primarily Undergraduate Institutions as well as helping provide information on how to apply for faculty positions.  His nominators highlighted his passion and readiness to jump in."
  • Beza TugaChemistry
    "Beza Tuga is continually breaking down barriers, creating opportunities, and advocating for BIPOC and other underrepresented groups." Last year, she co-founded the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers here on campus. Starting a chapter is no easy feat, but Beza has helped NOBACChe host events, recruit, and inspire others. She has used her experiences and challenges that she has overcome to help create an inclusive, welcoming, and supportive space for the Chemistry and STEM communities."
  • Jenn Hoody, Mechanical Engineering 
    "Jenn Hoody serves on the Mechanical Engineering Graduate Council in two co-chair positions, Co-Chair for Coffee Hour and DEI Co-Chair. In these positions, she has championed the creation of the ME DEI Newsletter as well as bringing food and refreshments from local BIPOC and women-owned businesses for the community building ME Coffee Hours. She has been instrumental in enhancing educational opportunities and connection-building. In her work in the Wright Lab, she has worked to embed DEI into her research process and is working with the department and Grad Council to bring her unique ideas to tie research and DEI together to other labs."
  • Grace KresgeChemical Engineering
    "Grace Kresge serves as a graduate student co-chair for the DEI Working Group in the Department of Chemical Engineering & Material Science and founding leader of "Students Organizing Against Racism" in Summer 2020. She took on the challenge of understanding and utilizing the large collection of data from years of departmental climate surveys drawing from experiences in scientific communication and work in advocacy. From reading written feedback and conducting data analysis to creating meaningful and impactful infographics, She led a team that gave a voice to the valuable feedback and presented to current and upcoming Departmental Leadership on the current climate and important action items."

CSE Undergraduate Student Awards

  • Nhi Dang, Computer Science and Mathematics
    "Nhi Dang is actively involved in work on campus that fosters inclusive, supportive, and encouraging spaces. In particular, in her role as a TA, She consistently advocates for women in STEM and creates a safe learning space for students to feel comfortable asking for help. One of her nominators said it best - "Her engagement in outreach and awareness activities showcases her leadership, dedication, and commitment to creating a diverse and equitable future for the STEM community."
  • Abdullah Shahkhan, Biomedical Engineering
    "Abdullah Shahkhan has been involved in a variety of student groups and organizations on and off campus, including the Muslim Student Organization, the PSEO Student Association, the Al-Shifa Clinic, and through on-campus research opportunities. Throughout these experiences, they have done tremendous work for not only our immediate campus/Twin Cities communities but also for communities around the world by managing humanitarian relief causes like the Earthquake in Syria and Turkey and supporting students during Ramadan Iftars by collecting funds."
  • Lauren Hagen, Computer Science
    "Lauren Hagen is involved in many spaces on campus, but their role as the president of oSTEM was one that stood out to the review committee. They were heavily involved in the overall planning and success of CSE's Pride Week, and their nominator shared that they "always brought an inclusive and thoughtful voice to the process, doing an earnest job to represent the best interests of the LGBTQIA2s+ student population."
  • Lena Embaby, Mechanical Engineering
    "Lena Embaby has helped host a variety of events on campus, including but not limited to Black History Month, Hispanic Heritage Month, and Pacific Islander Month. All 6 of her nominators commented on the incredible impact of these events and made note of how dedicated she is to this work and making sure everyone feels included and valued."
  • Juma Waganda, Chemical Engineering
    "Juma Waganda is actively making the Chemical Engineering & Materials Science department (and the world) a better place. Throughout her time at the U, she has shared her insight as a woman of color in the CEMS by giving feedback on areas that aren't working for the Department while at the same time highlighting what is working. She also was heavily involved in the development of inclusive teaching surveys and held conversations with both staff and faculty to address concerns raised by students."

Awards categories

CSE Excellence in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion awards recognize a nominee in each category who has consistently engaged with DEI efforts, demonstrated exemplary leadership, or has created a long-lasting impact in pursuit of a more diverse, equitable and inclusive climate within the College of Science & Engineering.  

CSE Excellence in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Award categories:

  • Undergraduate students currently enrolled at the University of Minnesota and pursuing a STEM degree
  • Graduate students currently enrolled at the University of Minnesota and pursuing a STEM degree
  • Faculty affiliated with the College of Science and Engineering
  • Staff affiliated with the College of Science and Engineering
  • Postdoc affiliated with the College of Science and Engineering
  • Student Organization currently registered at the University of Minnesota and affiliated with the College of Science and Engineering

Nominations are now closed.

Event highlights

This annual invitation-only awards presentation program showcases the many campus contributions of individuals who actively contribute to a positive and more equitable College of Science and and Engineering climate through diversity, equity, and inclusion events, programming, and volunteer work.

In addition to celebrating scholarship recipients, and award recipients and their nominators, the event is an excellent opportunity to network with: 

  • Industry professionals
  • Student representatives from various STEM identity-based organizations 
  • University of Minnesota and College of Science and Engineering professionals