Equity and Inclusion

CIDD Diversity Statement

CIDD is a community of researchers, faculty, students, and staff that brings together expertise from different colleges and departments to develop collaborative approaches to the study of infectious disease biology. CIDD consists of 70+ research groups engaged in 40+ countries, representing 15 academic departments, across five colleges at Penn State University. Our CIDD community has local and global partnerships with academic institutions, health agencies, and industry leaders to help develop scientific findings informed and shaped by real world people and their experiences. Our research engages with diverse groups across the globe, and it is part of our fundamental mission to promote equity and to encourage change that supports and uplifts both those within the CIDD community and toward those whom our research impacts.

One of our goals at CIDD is to promote health equity globally. To do so effectively, we must address the legacy of discrimination and social inequity within the field of infectious disease. Marginalized communities are typically affected by infectious disease at a disproportionately higher rate than other populations due to limited health care access, medical mistrust caused by the historical mistreatment of these communities by researchers in the field, and other factors leading to suboptimal management of infectious diseases among these communities (Evans et al, 2020; Sun and Amon, 2018; Marmot, 2005; Farmer, 1996). Identifying health inequities requires first addressing their closely linked relationship to human rights. Within CIDD, we aim to incorporate the awareness of these health inequities, including nondiscrimination, and equity, into our research programs.

A second goal at CIDD is to promote equity within our local communities. We do this by encouraging rigorous science within a safe environment and a research community that supports people of different ethnicities, races, religions, gender identities, abilities/disabilities, sexual orientations and economic backgrounds. Furthermore, we must challenge, racism, sexism, and homophobia in academia and highlight and respond to inequalities that affect the members of our community. Universities remain institutions that perpetuate forms of classism, sexism, racism, and homophobia. Under-represented groups face persistent barriers when navigating academia including increased performance expectations, imposter syndrome, and patterns of exclusion within and outside the workplace. Institutionalized racism and sexism have contributed to these barriers and have created a culture and community that excludes these individuals leading to decreased retention of URM faculty, staff, and students. At CIDD we aim to train a generation of scholars who will be leaders in creating a culture of scientific endeavor with equity and inclusion as core values.

The Center for infectious Disease Dynamics at Pennsylvania State University aims to foster a thriving and innovative research community by fostering diversity and inclusion initiatives that support and shape the growth and development of our students, faculty, and staff through:

  • Undergraduate training: We actively support the McNair and Millennium Scholars programs to provide research experience for undergraduate scholars from underrepresented minority (URM) groups and train the next generation of infectious disease scientists.
  • Recruitment of graduate trainees, staff and faculty: We actively participate in programs aimed at revamping current recruitment practices and providing continuing support for URM scholars throughout their graduate and post-doctoral training. We partner with departments across the university to support faculty hires.
  • Seminars and Development: Recognizing the work of marginalized scientists is to value their achievements within and outside of the academy, and to give credit and respect appropriately. We will use our platform as the leading infection disease center to support and amplify the work of early career scientists, scientists from traditionally URM groups in the United States, and individuals from countries that have been traditionally underrepresented in our field. Furthermore, we advocate for these groups, and will provide them with a foundation of equitable opportunities, and resources through which they can advance their careers.
  • Partnering with university DEI groups on campus: We support collaborations between CIDD and DEI groups on campus to incorporate learned diversity principles into within our community.
  • Workshops: Hosting professional development workshops that provide critical training experience in categories, including but not limited to statistical analysis, cover letter writing, science communication to the public, non-academic employment opportunities, and any other supplemental training not currently addressed in the lab or the home department.
  • Socialization & General support: Within our center we will continue to provide social programming aimed at developing a supportive network across researchers in infectious disease. Furthermore, as academics, we are often located far from home and are less connected with ongoing events that might be directly affecting loved ones. We acknowledge how difficult this is and provide support to all during national and international crises and events.

At CIDD, we will amplify the concerns of our colleagues and collectively stand up against people who do not respect our colleagues as valuable members of our community and exclude them on the basis of race, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, and disability status. As scientists, we must be unified and vigilant in the fight against inequality. As a community within CIDD, we will focus specifically on equity in our programming, recruitment, and retention efforts going forward.

Being able to approach questions from various experiences will allow us to find solutions that support global enterprise and development. Our goal is to continue cultivating an environment conducive to supporting a range of respectful ideals, values, perspectives, and personalities within our research community.

Additional resources about diversity and inclusion