Projects and Testimonials

Read about the projects past participants have embarked upon and what they have to say about their experiences in the program.

Supporting students

My team is exploring a couple of project ideas:

  1. Have members of the Princeton community "accompany" students in local community colleges: spend an hour a week with them, help them navigate challenges, and also learn from them.

  2. Prepare students from marginalized communities for careers in IT (an initiative that Majora Carter previously launched successfully, but which languished for lack of enough capital to scale up).

"This program illuminates the construction of racial injustice from its inception, delivering deep systemic insights. It enabled me to knowledgably and meaningfully participate in discussions on race and how we can be a more just people."

- Manish Bhardwaj, CEO and Co-Founder of Innovators In Health; Lecturer in the Keller Center; James Wei Visiting Professor in Entrepreneurship 2021-2022

Racially equitable research and teaching

My project is to explore the ways the Engineering Library collections and services can support racially equitable engineering research and teaching. I plan to perform an analysis of the collections through the lens of social justice in engineering and develop outward facing materials to guide researchers in uncovering literature and data that supports social justice in engineering.

"I am still incredibly grateful to have been able to participate in the Program in Institutional and Historical Racism in Engineering. I found the progression from the Racial Equity Institute’s Groundwater approach to Janet Vertesi’s lecture on infrastructure as an installed base that impacts everything built upon them provided an especially compelling picture of the structures embedded in our society that need to be intentionally dismantled. The understanding of systemic racism I gained in the program has provided a valuable foundation for my work as a librarian and in supporting engineering education and research." - Willow Dressel, Librarian, Engineering Library

Addressing disparities in funding

Our Approach: From two different perspectives, Julie Yun and Jennifer Speed tried to better understand, and consider how to address, how disparities in extramural funding tends to fall along lines defined by gender identity (male/female) and race or ethnicity.

The Problem: Nationally (and by extension, at Princeton), women and persons from other groups that are underrepresented, historically excluded, and/or marginalized within STEM fields, tend also to have lower rates of funding, i.e., fewer awards in absolute terms, lower rates of award (number of proposals/# of awards), and lower funding amounts per award, when compared to men and persons who are white. In many STEM fields, a researcher’s ability to secure external funding is critical for retention and promotion, and by extension, sense of belonging. If Princeton wants to attract and retain a diverse body of researchers, it must offer the resources, tools, and support needed for all faculty to meet with success as grantseekers.

Preliminary and anecdotal data suggest that women and persons from underrepresented/historically excluded groups:

  1. Experience less mentoring around grantseeking and how to launch a research career—both before they arrive at Princeton and afterwards
  2. Are more likely to be first-generation academics
  3. Are less likely to assert themselves in unfamiliar settings (such as grantseeking) when their colleagues and peers are perceived as already knowing what to do
  4. Are less likely to be invited to join large, collaborative grant proposals in junior roles (co-PI, senior personnel, collaborator) that can be leveraged when seeking subsequent awards
  5. Are more likely to be discouraged by a rejected proposal
  6. Are less likely to see out individualized support (or think they can avail themselves of such support), perhaps because they a) do not know what kind or support is available, or b) do not want to seem like they don’t know how to navigate an important system, or c) do not feel as though they have the right to claim such support

The Solution: We aren’t there yet, but we are exploring ways to:

  1. ensure that all researchers are aware of resources that are available to everyone
  2. offer targeted outreach to groups that are underserved
  3. raise the awareness of senior faculty of barriers that prevent greater inclusion/equity
  4. cultivate intentionality among PIs when seeking collaborators for grants
  5. encourage mentorship of junior faculty by senior faculty and experienced researchers who already know how to navigate the funding landscape

How has this program been beneficial?

"Although Julie and I had met previously, this program brought us together to tackle a shared concern and we are still exploring ways that we can develop shared solutions. Moreover, it has helped us to focus on systems-level barriers—and possible solutions." - Jennifer Speed, Research Development Strategist, Office of the Dean for Research