The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) announced the winners of the Taking Action: COVID-19 Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Challenge, with UCI finishing second in the STEM Graduate Student and Postdoctoral Scholar category and claiming honorable mention status in the STEM Faculty category.
UCI was the only member of the University of California system to place and was awarded $15,000 for the second-place finish.
NSF awarded cash prizes to the winning institutions of higher education that identified actions they implemented or planned to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in STEM at their colleges and universities.
“This important challenge rewards institutions for their efforts to ensure that the pandemic will not reduce the already low participation and inclusion of diverse students and workers in STEM education and careers,” said Dr. Diana Elder, Division Director of NSF’s Division of Human Resource Development.
Winning challenge participants shared a number of interventions, such as launching a graduate student well-being program, providing accessible and free Wi-Fi connectivity on and near campus and shifting institutional policies to automatically grant tenure clock extensions to faculty.
“Issues brought on by the pandemic or exacerbated by it really require all hands on deck,” said Dr. Sylvia Butterfield, Acting Assistant Director for NSF’s Education and Human Resources Directorate. “It was wonderful to see so many institutions across the country share their action plans to tackle the long-term impacts of the pandemic on DEI in STEM.”