Keystone Symposia Leader Discusses Diversity Initiatives for Scientists

Laina King (second left) with doctoral students Ololade Fatunmbi, Joelle Labastide, and Cornelius Taabazuing

Laina King, director of Diversity in Life Science Programs for the Keystone Symposia on Molecular and Cellular Biology, discussed the organization’s program and initiatives during a Dec. 9 campus visit hosted by the STEM Diversity Institute.

Addressing an audience of junior faculty, postdocs and graduate students from the biological sciences, King described the work of the Keystone Symposia, a non-profit organization formed to “accelerate scientific discovery, catalyze collaborative research and foster the next generation of life scientists.” 

She urged graduate students from underrepresented groups to seek out Keystone’s Diversity Initiatives, such as the Underrepresented Minority Scholarship Program for Graduate Students and Postdocs, which provides travel scholarships to help defray the cost of attending conferences. 

Postdocs and junior faculty from the biological and medical sciences heard about the Fellows Programs, a program aimed at teaching early career scientists about the “inner workings of the science community,” including how research agendas are set.  Through such a program, young scientists from underrepresented groups meet leading scientists and begin to build their own science network.

Above all else, King emphasized that while “working hard and being bright is wonderful and you need that, you cannot be an effective, successful scientist by yourself.  You have to connect with those who have come before you, who are laterally to you and sometimes your peers … it’s extremely important to have … a strong network of scientists who understand the grant process, the grant funding process, and the grant writing process…I want them [graduate students and junior faculty from underrepresented groups and women] to understand that in isolation you can’t do it.”