The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in ChE: Mission

The Chemical Engineering Department at UMass Amherst is strongly committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion. We recognize and value the wide range of voices and perspectives of our community, and we expect all members of our community to treat each other with mutual respect and civility. It is our privilege to provide access and opportunities for all people, while demonstrating our commitment to inclusion of students, staff, and faculty members from underrepresented groups. We are committed in policy, principle, and practice to creating and maintaining an inclusive environment that provides an opportunity for people from all groups to thrive.

We have set the following guidelines, to foster diversity, equity, and inclusion in Chemical Engineering. We will continue to update these guidelines as needed.

Department-wide action items:

  1. The Chemical Engineering Department will name a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee to establish overall best practices, set action items to improve the Department’s culture, hold Department members accountable to action items, work with relevant groups in the college and university, and help the Department improve over time. The inaugural committee will be named no later than September 1, 2020 and will be adjusted as necessary every May thereafter. The DEI committee will actively seek input from students, faculty, and staff. The committee will have a minimum of three faculty members plus the Department Head, one graduate student, one undergraduate student, and one staff member. Faculty members on the committee must include representation from both the UPC and GPC.
  2. The current DEI Committee  is made up of Ashish Kulkarni (Chair), Anna Marie LaChance, Amity Lee, Isaac Ramírez Marerro, Anna Wirasupatra,  and Mahidhar Lakkavaram.
  3. The Department Seminar Committee will implement several initiatives to ensure the diversity of seminar speakers highlights the diversity of scientists and engineers in our field.
    1. Each year, when the seminar coordinator solicits nominations for seminar speakers, they will encourage nominations of speakers from groups traditionally underrepresented in Chemical Engineering for both regular seminars and the distinguished seminar series. To support this process, the DEI committee will nominate a minimum of 2 seminar speakers each year.
    2. ChEGS (the Chemical Engineering Graduate Society) will nominate a ChEGS student-invited seminar speaker each year. The seminar coordinator will organize the invitation and visit.
    3. Each year, the Department will host a seminar by a recent alum, the Best Dissertation Award winner from the previous year. The seminar coordinator will organize the invitation and visit.
    4. The seminar coordinator will participate in the 3M Diversity Seminar Series led by Prof. Sarah Perry and Prof. Laura Bradley by suggesting names for potential speakers, and scheduling and advertising the seminar.
    5. The seminar series will be advertised on the Department website and social media outlets. Speakers will be asked for pictures to be included in these advertisements.
    6. The seminar coordinator will work with the DEI committee to evaluate the effectiveness of these initiatives annually and incorporate suggestions for improvement from all members of the department.
  4. The DEI committee will coordinate with the UPD, GPD, and seminar coordinator to host a DEI forum for all members of the Department each semester.

Action items related to the Graduate Program:

  1. The GPC will develop, and the DEI committee will evaluate, the graduate admissions review process to ensure that best practices are being conducted. The graduate admissions committee (GAC) will consist of at least 10 faculty members with diverse backgrounds and research interests. All members of the GAC will be required to complete implicit bias training. The GPC will track all students who applied, were admitted, matriculated, and completed a graduate degree to evaluate current inequities and to improve best practices.

    Committee formed October 19, 2021:  Members; Jungwoo Lee, Omar Abdelrahman (Co-Chair), Dimitrios Maroudas, Peng Bai , Ashish Kulkarni, Wei Fan, Friederike Jentoft, Jessica Schiffman (Co-Chair), Lauren Andrews. 
  2. The Chemical Engineering Graduate Program will no longer consider the GRE as part of the application package.
  3. The Graduate School at the University of Massachusetts Amherst is part of the National Research Mentoring Network. Chemical Engineering faculty members with research-active labs (i.e. who mentor post-doctoral fellows, graduate students, and/or undergraduates) will all receive training by this program no later than September 2021. New faculty members that join the department will have one year to complete this training after arriving on campus. The GPD will work with the DEI committee to ensure that all new students and postdoctoral trainees are placed into compliant labs.
  4. The Chemical Engineering Department commits to having representation from faculty members and students at minority-serving conferences (ABRCMS, SACNAS, NOBCChE and others), and will commit $2,000 per year to support student and faculty travel to these conferences and/or HBCUs and minority-serving institutions to give seminars. The DEI committee will coordinate with the seminar coordinator to create partnerships with minority serving institutions to increase the diversity of our seminar series and as a recruiting tool. Funding from the Chemical Engineering Department will be amplified through additional funding from other UMass graduate programs, the Graduate School, and colleges. As we recruit, we will make it clear to all students that the Graduate School waives the application fees for applicants from underrepresented groups.
  5. The Chemical Engineering Department will provide a one-time bonus of $2,000 to incoming Ph.D. students to offset the costs associated with moving to the Amherst, MA area.
  6. All graduate students in the program must complete an Individual Development Plan (IDP) before the end of their first year in the program. Students must discuss the IDP with either their advisor, the GPD, the DH, or another member of their thesis committee. This requirement will be clearly stated in the Graduate Program Handbook. The DEI committee strongly encourages all students to complete an IDP at or near the end of each of their years in the program.

Action items related to faculty

  1. The DEI committee will be charged with reviewing our hiring processes, and how we form and use search committees for faculty hiring. They will create a strategic plan for hiring going forward, with benchmarked goals, to be reviewed by the Department Head. A proposal will be formed and discussed with the full faculty no later than March 1, 2021.

Have you observed any actions of bigotry, racism, or exclusion?

The College of Engineering welcomes anonymous comments and suggestions related to harassment, diversity, equity, and inclusion in the College of Engineering.  Please use the link below to share your experiences.

Anonymous Sharing of Positive/Negative Classroom Experiences »


Additional Resources from Nefertiti Walker, Vice Chancellor

updated September 1, 2022:

Office of Equity and Inclusion
301 Whitmore Administration Building

Disability Services
Phone (V/TTY): 413-545-0892
Fax: 413-577-0122

Accessible Workplace

Center for Women and Community

24-Hour Sexual Assault Support & Advocacy SASA Hotline (Rape Crisis): 413-545-0800


Center for Counseling and Psychological Health
CCPH remains available 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, 365 days a year for mental health emergencies.

Life-threatening emergency

  • On campus – call UMPD: 413-545-3111
  • Off campus – call: 911

Equal Opportunity and Access Office
Report a Concern

Employee Resource Groups
Contact the ERG chairs for information.

Ombuds Office
Campus Center Room 823

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