SACNAS-UMMS inaugural workshop will explore implicit bias in science

UMass Medical School Communications

June 12, 2017

The new student-led chapter of the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) at UMass Medical School invites all to attend its first workshop on Wednesday, June 21, when diversity experts will address the subtle but significant problem of implicit bias in the scientific enterprise.

Established in 1973, SACNAS is a national organization that fosters the success of Chicano/Hispanic and Native American scientists from college students to professionals in attaining advanced degrees, careers and positions of leadership in science, technology, engineering and math disciplines.

“Implicit bias” refers to stereotypes that affect our understanding, behavior and decisions in an unconscious manner. Involving both favorable and unfavorable involuntary assessments, implicit biases lead to feelings and attitudes about other people based on characteristics such as race, ethnicity, age and appearance.

“The SACNAS-UMMS student chapter decided to bring together a group of experts in the topic, to help us better understand this social problem,” said chapter faculty advisor and co-founder Teresita Padilla-Benavides, PhD, instructor in biochemistry & molecular pharmacology. “It is important that we understand and develop personal strategies to identify implicit associations.”

The interactive workshop will be led by guest experts Bruce Birren, PhD, and Stephen Allsop, PhD, and UMass Medical School’s Deborah Plummer, PhD, vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion and professor of psychiatry.

Dr. Birren, director of the Genomic Center for Infectious Diseases at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, is the founding advisor to the institute's Diversity Initiative in Scientific Research. Dr. Allsop, a neuroscientist conducting postdoctoral research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has been involved in efforts to increase scientists’ awareness of social biases and exposure to tools that help increase cultural and intellectual diversity within the scientific community. 

The workshop is sponsored by the Immigration Services Office; the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences Office of Postdoctoral Affairs; the Diversity and Inclusion Office; and the Latin/Hispanic Employee Resource Group.

RSVPs are requested by Wednesday, June 14. The event will take place on Wednesday, June 21, from 12:30 to 2 p.m. in room 2072 in the Albert Sherman Center on the Worcester campus.

Related stories on UMassMedNow:
UMMS establishes chapter of national organization to advance Latinos/minorities in science
Conversation about unconscious bias launches UMMS Diversity Campus Read
Students recognize Latinos’ impact on science and medicine during Hispanic Heritage Month
Unconscious bias affects biomedical careers

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