Diversity in Life Science Programs

Diversity Attenddees

The Keystone Symposia Model of Diversity

  • Forward-looking and future-focused
  • Richly resourced and ambitious
  • Continually seeks creative input and suggestions from the scientific community
  • Makes a contribution to society

The Keystone Symposia Perspective on Diversity

For nearly 4 decades Keystone Symposia has been connecting members of the scientific community through conferences featuring cutting-edge research and collaborative approaches to scientific inquiry. Keystone Symposia has played a major role in the professional development of new investigators by providing opportunities to meet and interact with established, world renowned senior scientists in relaxed retreat-like settings. Such opportunities are invaluable for new scientists embarking on careers in research.

The questions and outcomes in research reflect the culture, background and perspectives of scientists who lead and conduct this research. Keystone Symposia continues to evolve its role in the promotion of life science research by identifying and recruiting perspectives that have been largely absent from much of the life science research enterprise. A major effort in this regard focuses on underrepresented populations in the U.S., where a combination of socio-cultural, political, economic and historical factors have likely contributed to their participation in the life sciences at levels lower than would otherwise be expected given their numbers in the overall population. This aspect means that such populations are underrepresented.

The challenge of addressing diversity is complex and multi-faceted. At Keystone Symposia, we are focusing on those areas of diversity most closely related to our historic mission, our values and the types of contributions that we make to the scientific community and to society as a whole. The Keystone Symposia model – being a catalyst for change – is a driving force as we initiate our efforts regarding diversity in the life science research community.

Objectives and On-going Approaches to Enhancing Diversity

  1. Develop, interact with and utilize networks within the underrepresented community – African American, Native American or Alaska Native, Hispanic American or Latin American and Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander. Creation of new networks between scientists utilizing scientific approaches and theory to network development outlined in the sociological, computer science, psychological and mathematics disciplines.
  2. Continue development and innovation in training, mentoring and education through the Keystone Symposia Fellows Program. This highly competitive, research-driven, diversity-centered program provides in-depth understanding of the inner workings of the life sciences community and the setting of the research agenda.
  3. Increase and expand our association and partnership with the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS), organized by the American Society for Microbiology.
  4. Expand organizational knowledge in the area of diversity in the broad higher education arena through leadership participation in the annual meetings of the American Council on Education and its collaborative partner, The National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education (NADOHE).
  5. Grow our association and partnership with the Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS).
  6. Expand our institutional outreach and campus visitation program with presentations, face-to-face meetings and discussions with graduate students, postdoctoral students, fellows, faculty, P.I.s and program heads by the Director of Diversity in Life Science Programs and other Keystone Symposia staff members, to initiate and maintain established relationships and networks.
  7. Initiate specific interventions at certain Keystone Symposia conferences such as “Meet the Speaker” sessions, “How to Get the Most Out of Small Meetings,” mentoring seminars, workshops on tenure vs. tenure-track appointments and other topics of major concern to graduate students, postdoctoral new industry trainees and new students, and new investigators initiating careers in science.
  8. Continue collaborative work with the Diversity Advisory Committee (DAC) in networking strategy development, expanding diversity initiatives and longitudinal planning.
  9. Building on our established scholarship program, which has been increased through support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, expand further opportunities for scholarships and travel awards.
  10. Implement specialized conference sessions, suggestions and outcomes of the first Keystone Symposia Focus Group on Participation Enhancement in July 2008, which addressed participation enhancement by underrepresented scientists. Focus Group members came from across the United States.
  11. Engage Keystone Symposia staff in knowledge acquisition through the Internal Work Group on Diversity, to effectively reach targeted objectives of the organization and Board.
  12. Develop mechanisms to foster and maintain social networks at Keystone Symposia conferences by attendees who are representative of UR groups as well as first-time attendees in order to abate potential experiences of isolation and disconnectedness.

Longitudinal Parameters of the Keystone Diversity Perspective

Current activities as well as forthcoming initiatives and programs directed at enhancing diversity at Keystone Symposia are all being viewed on a longitudinal basis. Review, evaluation and measurement of relevant outcomes are key to the short term and longer term success of our endeavors. Moreover, we aim to contribute to broader efforts at diversity in the life science fields by sharing information and outcomes via our website, publications and other outreach. Achieving and sharing targeted outcomes at Keystone Symposia takes advantage of the organization's rich resources including a highly integrated functional structure; substantial databases and tools for querying these databases; establish scientific networks, and experiential historical data related to programming. As with all that we do at Keystone Symposia, we strive to be the best in the development of new cutting-edge initiatives associated with diversity issues in life sciences: it is at this cutting edge where discoveries are made, new ideas come into being and solutions for existing challenges are found.

History of Keystone Symposia Diversity Initiatives