Race Matters


David Asai is Senior Director for Science Education at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.  His team at HHMI designs and runs initiatives to support formal science education at the pre-college, college/university, and graduate levels.  Each initiative emphasizes the importance of advancing inclusive diversity in science, which is primarily the responsibility of the institution in which students learn and train. 

Dr. Asai gave a presentation in GDBBS last year that was attended by our Faculty Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Tracy McGill. Tracy reached out to David to bring his presentation to chemistry. On Monday, March 29th, 2021, Dr. Asai gave a virtual seminar in chemistry. In addition to this seminar, Dr. Asai met with the DEI committee and with graduate and undergraduate scholars. Over 100 members of the chemistry and Emory community attended the seminar.

Seminar Abstract & Recording

Today, more than 33% of the U.S. population are PEERs (Persons Excluded from science because of their Ethnicity or Race).  But less than 13% of the total U.S. scientific workforce, and less than 7% of tenured and tenure-track STEM faculty are PEERs.  PEERs are over-represented among students entering college intending to study STEM, but quickly become underrepresented among STEM bachelor’s and PhD recipients.  PEERs leave science at twice the rate of non-PEERs, and this gap has not closed in three decades (Asai, 2020).

Too often, our mindset has been one in which PEERs are commoditized and our interventions rely on collecting and treating the students.  These approaches, while perhaps accruing short-term benefits to the students, are not sufficient to effect widespread and long-term change.  It is important to adopt an “equity framework” that focuses on changing the system in which students find themselves (Malcom-Piqueux et al., 2017; Griffin, 2020).  What will equity framing look like in science education?  

Click here to view a video of Dr. Asai’s seminar. Available until 08.26.21.

Related Resources

Asai, D.J.  2020.  Cell 181: 754-757.

Griffin, K.A.  2020.  Higher Education:  Handbook of Theory and Research 35:  1-73.

Malcom-Piqueux, L.  2017.  Peer Review, Assoc. American College & Universities.

Project Leadership

  • Dr. Tracy McGill, Faculty Director for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Professor of Pedagogy