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  • Sophie McCoy

Statement of Support from the Dept. of Biological Science Faculty

Our Department Chair, Prof. Tom Houpt, has made a statement on behalf of the Department of Biological Science and we, the Department of Biological Science faculty, wish to affirm his statement and share some additional thoughts.


We are deeply concerned over the latest atrocities against Black Americans. We recognize that many in our community, which includes undergraduate students, graduate students, post-docs, and staff, have been affected by racism and inequitable access to healthcare, and these systemic issues are impacting our entire country. We recognize the increased stress felt in the Black community at present, and we strive to accommodate that in our professional and personal interactions.


We state our commitment to racial and social equality, justice and inclusion. We offer our support to our students and other members of our community at this difficult time, and hope that our students and mentees will reach out if they are in need of assistance or accommodations that we can provide.


We regret that the makeup of our faculty is not fully representative of all of the types of diversity that enrich our community and student body. We commit to intensifying and improving our efforts to recruit and support students, staff, and faculty from all groups.  We envision a future in which there is equal access to and support for a career in science for all.


Though better than staying quiet, we recognize that statements are easy and insufficient. We know we need to take action to make our department more inclusive, not just say we will do it. We look forward to working with our entire department, guided by the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, to learn from each other and find ways toward positive change.



Ways to connect with the faculty with questions, suggestions, and concerns:


Biological Science Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee.  DIEC is a volunteer group including (so far) graduate students, postdocs and faculty.  We welcome suggestions, concerns and new volunteers.  You can submit named or anonymous thoughts through the form on the departmental Diversity and Inclusion page (https://www.bio.fsu.edu/diversity_statement.php), or contact any of the current members, faculty or otherwise (in alphabetical order):

Penelope Ales (graduate student)

Jane Benoit (graduate student)

Alexa Guerrera (graduate student)

Jacob Heiling (postdoc)

Alex Hooks (graduate student)

Brittany Kraft (faculty)

Melanie Medina (graduate student)

Dan Okamoto (faculty)

Monica Paniagua (graduate student)

Nate Spindel (graduate student)

Nora Underwood (chair)


Department Administration:


You are always invited to bring concerns and ideas to the faculty in our department administration:

Tom Houpt (Chair)

Nora Underwood (Associate Chair for Graduate Studies)

Karen McGinnis (Associate Chair for Undergraduate Studies)

Alice Winn (Associate Chair for Curriculum (grad and undergrad)


The faculty representatives from each area are also available to talk to about initiatives in your area.  This year they are:

Scott Burgess (EE)

Hongchang Cui (CMB)

Jim Fadool (Neuro)


Your advisor! More communication with your advisor is always better than less. Advisors are a great place to start with questions about how the department and university are currently run, and to brainstorm ideas for improvement.

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