Three Rhodes Faculty Added to National Network Supporting Diversity in Higher-Ed STEM Communities

collage of female faculty members

Three distinguished Rhodes College faculty have been accepted into a national peer-mentoring network focused on supporting the advancement of gender equity and diversity in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.

Dr. Erin Bodine, associate professor of mathematics; Dr. Sarah Boyle, associate professor of biology; and Dr. Loretta Jackson-Hayes, professor of chemistry and director of scholarly and creative activity mentoring, are members of the inaugural cohort of the Advancing STEM Careers by Empowering Network Development (ASCEND).  Bodine and Boyle were selected as two of 60 faculty participants, and Jackson-Hayes was selected as one of 15 administrator participants on this project.

ASCEND is funded by a nearly million-dollar National Science Foundation grant that runs through September 2024. According to ASCEND’s project summary, the far-reaching goal is to create academic STEM communities that reflect the diversity of the general population. Led by Dr. Sarah Kirk of Willamette University, its members include university administrators and mid-career women STEM faculty from a diverse set of undergraduate institutions (public, private, rural, urban, HBCU, and military) across three regions of the United States, who will meet monthly via virtual meetings and annually face-to-face.

The meetings will provide participants with career advancement resources, opportunities to explore institutional and systemic barriers that prevent women at the mid-career level from being promoted to full professor or obtaining positions in academic administration, and professional development and leadership training, including conflict resolution and negotiation. Participants also will gain tools and resources to develop plans for their own academic communities to create environments promoting diversity in the STEM disciplines.

The faculty mentioned above will share resources with a Rhodes campus cohort of mid-career women in STEM, including Dr. Becky Klatzkin, associate professor of psychology and program faculty for neuroscience; Dr. Larryn Peterson, associate professor of chemistry and program faculty for neuroscience and biochemistry and molecular biology; and Dr. Ann Viano, associate professor of physics.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for Professors Jackson-Hayes, Bodine, and Boyle to become ‘catalysts’—participants in this inter-institutional peer mentoring network aimed at fostering the retention and advancement of a diverse STEM faculty. Networks matter for faculty persistence,” says Dr. Amy Jasperson, dean for faculty development. “The NSF ASCEND grant will provide best practices for mentoring mid-career women faculty in STEM, will allow the sharing of resources with our extended campus cohort, and will help us to further support our mid-career faculty at Rhodes. This initiative is in perfect alignment with the priorities outlined in Rhodes’ strategic plan to build academic and creative excellence in the liberal arts and sciences and to pursue projects that foster an inclusive campus community and a culture of belonging.”

Related Story: Drs. Shana Stoddard and Loretta Jackson-Hayes of Rhodes College are interviewed by WHBQ/FOX-TV in “Increasing the Number of Women In STEM Careers Through Mentorship”