The MIT Department of Biology promotes diversity and inclusion as one of our core values. We welcome and encourage talented individuals of all cultural and ethnic backgrounds, sexual orientations and gender identities, and individuals with disabilities, to participate in the Department’s teaching and research endeavors. One of our strengths is a diverse community of scientists, trainees, and staff who share a vision focused on education and discovery, who treat each other respectfully, and who value the contributions of each person.
Together, we work to understand the foundations of life, and to bring new knowledge to bear on some of the world’s most difficult and pressing problems related to human health, energy, food, and the environment. We advance our collective pursuit of intellectual, creative, and technical excellence by recruiting talented thinkers and doers from all backgrounds and experiences to contribute distinct perspectives and skills.
The Biology Department continually strives to increase the number of underrepresented minority faculty, students, and staff in our community, and to ensure that all feel welcome. In addition, we continually work to make our community accessible to all qualified individuals. In partnership with the university, we place high value on creating and maintaining a supportive environment for studying, working, and living that promotes physical and mental well-being and allows each individual to reach their full potential.
The department has begun producing annual diversity reports. You can view the latest report here.
View Diversity Report (Kerberos login required)
“Continuing to build and support a thriving and diverse community of students, staff, and faculty is one of my highest priorities as Department Head. We launched the Committee on Diversity and Inclusion to further these goals, and we welcome suggestions and feedback from our community to create additional, concrete initiatives.” ~ Alan Grossman, Dept. Head
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Council
Established in January 2021, the DEI Council is comprised of students, postdocs, staff, and faculty representatives. The goals of this council are to more broadly and comprehensively understand and address the needs of the Department. Council members plan to gather information regarding the needs of community members, discuss and prioritize DEI-related issues, advise other entities in the department (e.g. Department Head, faculty DEI committee, Graduate Committee), and act on its own as appropriate.
DEI Faculty Committee
Established in July 2020, the DEI Faculty Committee focuses on DEI issues of particular relevance to faculty.
For more information regarding the council and committee members, visit the DEI page.
MIT Biology works to increase the numbers of diverse scientists, both at MIT and beyond. Mandana Sassanfar leads our outreach programs. She is the Director of Diversity and Science Outreach for the departments of Biology and Brain and Cognitive Sciences (BCS), and the Diversity Coordinator for the Center for Brains, Minds and Machines. Our outreach programs include:
Quantitative Methods Workshop
LEAH Knox Scholars Program
High School Field Trips to MIT
Summer Workshop for Teachers
“MSRP introduced me to a lot of people who shared my background and aspirations. Sharing both successes and challenges with these like-minded individuals made the whole summer experience better than I could have imagined. Being able to conduct science in this fast-paced environment while having fun also gave me more confidence in my own abilities.” ~ Alicia Zamudio, MSRP alum
In addition to these programs, we reach out to undergrads through campus visits and national conferences such as the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS) and the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) meeting. We also partner with the Massachusetts Biotechnology Education Foundation (MassBioEd) to host professional development workshops for New England middle and high school teachers.
We want to make it possible for all passionate young researchers to apply to graduate school at MIT. All students in need are eligible for an application fee waiver. Please check the Graduate Admissions website to determine if you are eligible.
Prospective graduate students from underrepresented or non-traditional backgrounds may also fill out a Biology Application Assistance Program (BAAP) form. BAAP pairs prospective students with current Biograds, who will provide feedback on applications to MIT Biology before submission. The deadline to fill out the BAAP form for this admissions cycle is November 15, 2021.
“There is nothing more rewarding than seeing talented, committed, and hardworking students — who often have limited opportunities at their home institutions — make the most of their time at MIT, and go on to enroll and succeed in the very top graduate programs in the country.” ~ Mandana Sassanfar, Director of Diversity and Science Outreach
Department and Institute Resources for Students
It’s not enough to recruit diverse scientists to our department; we also need to ensure they thrive once they arrive on campus. Student advisors are here to help! In addition, there are many departmental and Institute resources dedicated to ensuring your success at MIT and to help you navigate any challenges that arise.
In 2018, biology graduate students launched the Biology Diversity Community (BDC), a cross-disciplinary, student-driven group that fosters peer support for underrepresented students that unites a network of individuals throughout the biology community. The BDC focuses on creating a space for individuals and groups to communicate their varying perspectives in the MIT and broader scientific communities, and to discuss how to navigate barriers as graduate students.
“Part of my job is to identify and recruit students from a broad range of backgrounds, and to support them — with enthusiasm and empathy — on their journey through graduate school. I am gratified by the successes of our many students who never dreamed that they would do a PhD at MIT, but who are thriving and will go on to diversify and enrich the scientific community.” ~ Amy Keating, Graduate Officer
Words from the Institute President
Read about MIT’s view on an array of diversity-related issues from the perspective of President L. Rafael Reif.
- Adding Juneteenth as an Institute holiday
- Supporting our Asian community in a difficult time
- Repairing, reinforcing and renewing our sense of community
- MIT and Indigenous Peoples Day
- ICE rescinds rule on international students and online learning
- MIT action in response to new ICE rule on online learning
- Addressing systemic racism at MIT
- Last night’s vigil
- Minneapolis, our nation and our community
- Immigration is a kind of oxygen
- Consoling each other and helping to heal the world
- MLK Celebration Lunch 2018
- Opening remarks, inaugural Data for Black Lives (D4BL) conference
- Trump should not repeal DACA
- To best serve the nation and the world