Social Hours

The Institute of Diversity Sciences invites students to a series of "social hours" with professionals from a variety of STEM-related fields and diverse backgrounds who work in private industry, government, or non-profit sectors. Students will learn about STEM career paths, receive advice and mentorship on charting successful pathways, and learn how they can advance social good in/through their STEM career.  

See below to learn about our past speakers. Stay tuned for updates on new speakers!


Luis Rivera, Associate Professor of Psychology at Rutgers University
Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021 6-7PM & Friday, Dec. 3, 2021 5:15-7PM

Luis Rivera

How can research and policy career pathways cross for social good? Dr. Rivera discussed his career trajectory and ways his research intersects with the policy world.  As an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science & Technology Policy Fellow (STPF), Rivera used his expertise on implicit and explicit biases to draft legislation and oversight letters that addressed the role of biases in artificial intelligence, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on marginalized groups. 

Watch the recording here!

"In search of understanding the implicit mind: My journey from the lab to the halls of congress" What is the nature of the implicit mind, when and why does it influence our evaluations of ourselves and others, and how does it shape inequities in society? These questions have driven my scholarship from my PhD days at UMass to my research lab at Rutgers University.  In my presentation, I will start by highlighting a cross-disciplinary empirical project that answers some of these questions about the implicit mind in the context of criminality.  Then, I will talk about how this and my broader work on implicit social cognition shaped my professional journey beyond the walls of my lab to reach communities and practitioners and most recently to policymakers in the United States Senate.  I will share lessons I learned as a Congressional Science and Technology Policy Fellow, where I focused on legislation, policy, and oversight at the intersection of bias and artificial intelligence. I also learned an unexpected lesson: social and behavioral scientists, natural scientists, engineers, and technologists have opportunities, and perhaps an obligation, to use their expertise to have a positive impact on society. I look forward to your questions and conversation. The talk took place over dinner at the Marriott Center at UMass Amherst.

Watch the recording here!

More about Luis:

Dr. Rivera is an Associate Professor in the Psychology Dept. at Rutgers University-Newark and a PhD alum from UMass Amherst. His experimental research investigates the implicit social cognitive processes that underlie stereotyped attitudes and how these processes shape the self, identity, and health of stigmatized individuals. His research elucidates the contextual and motivational factors that shape individuals’ stereotyped-based cognition about themselves and others that occur outside of awareness, control, and intention. His research has implications for the development and maintenance of stigmatized individuals’ social identities, the expression of implicit (and explicit) stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination, and the presence and persistence of health disparities between members of socially advantaged and disadvantaged groups. As an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science & Technology Policy Fellow (STPF) in the office of U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (Oregon), Rivera used his expertise on implicit and explicit biases to draft legislation and oversight letters that addressed the role of biases in artificial intelligence, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on marginalized groups. Read more about his fellowship experience here and here. Read his bio here.


Christine Fraser, SVP of Strategy & Operations at Dell EMC
Monday, April 12, 2021 6-7PM

Image of Chris Fraser

What does it mean to be a “socially responsible leader” in tech? 

How can you gauge the equity ethic of a company? What do employee resources groups, corporate social responsibility and impact programs really do, and how much do corporations really support these efforts and the employees that participate? 

Chris discussed these questions and her own trajectory in tech. 

Watch the recording here!

More about Chris:

Senior Vice President of Strategy and Operations & IT Services at Dell EMC and a UMass alum (BA, Applied Math), Chris is a passionate champion for women, people of color, and first generation college grads in technology. Over her 25 years in tech, she worked her way to the top and came to hold several leadership positions at Dell, including chief responsibility officer for social corporate responsibility. In this role, she spearheaded social impact programs including corporate giving, sustainability, and Dell’s Women Entrepreneur Network. A first-generation college graduate herself, Chris is strongly committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion and personally dedicates her time to mentoring. Chris provides opportunities for young tech professionals to access senior executives at Dell by hosting relaxed events at her home where they can network informally. View a brief video where Chris speaks to the importance of strong trusting relationships in your career here. Chris has served as the executive sponsor of Dell Technologies’ Women of Color Board, executive sponsor of Dell Technologies’ Northeast Chapter of Women in Action, and a variety of volunteer positions within the community, including support of STEM. For more, see her website here.

Co-sponsored by the UMass Amherst College of Engineering.


Dwana Franklin-Davis, CEO of Reboot Representation
Monday, March 8, 2021 6-7PM

Image of Dwana Franklin-DavisHow can you navigate a tech work environment and hold your company and co-workers accountable for equity and inclusion at work?

How can you persist and move up in your career (even if you hear a lot of “No’s!”)?

Watch the recording here!

Read a brief news items on this event

More about Dwana:

Dwana Franklin-Davis is the CEO of Reboot Representation. She is a collaborative and compelling visionary leading the Tech Coalition’s pooled philanthropic investments to enable more Black, Latina, and Native American women to graduate with computing degrees by 2025 and lessen the diversity gap in tech. 

A lifelong technologist with a passion for increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion in the tech sector, Dwana joined Reboot Representation in 2019 after working in IT, software engineering, and leadership positions for Mastercard, May Department Store Companies, and IBM. Based in New York City, Dwana holds a BS in Management from Purdue University, an MS in Information Management from Washington University in St. Louis, and a Certificate in Project Management from Washington University in St. Louis. 

Co-sponsored by the UMass Amherst College of Engineering.


Resources for social good in your STEM Career

Want to learn more about advancing social good through STEM research? Come to the Institute of Diversity Sciences monthly seminars where UMass scientists talk about their research on diversities and disparities in learning, work, health, or adaptation to climate change. The schedule for talks is on our events page.

Take a look at the events and workshops offered by the UMass Amherst Office of Professional Development at the Graduate School. If you are interested in policy fellowships, contact Heidi Bauer-Clapp at that office at

Learn about Civic Engagement and Service-Learning. For a course on “Engineering Service-Learning ” email Dr. Stephen Fernadez.

Join the Women of Color Leadership Network