The Understanding Interventions Awards

A particularly enjoyable part of the Understanding Interventions conferences has become the recognition of prominent thinkers and doers in our field through two annual awards.

The “Tol” Award

The Tol Award is named for Dr. Adolphus Toliver, who passed on March 26, 2013. Dr. Toliver–or Tol, as he preferred to be called–was a staunch supporter of diversity. His vision and dedication to increasing the participation of underrepresented minority students in biomedical research resulted in the development and improvement of many NIH programs.

Tol joined NIH in 1975 as the executive secretary of the biochemistry study section in the former Division of Research Grants (now the Center for Scientific Review). He was instrumental in assessing the emerging areas of biochemistry and molecular biology, which resulted in the creation of two new study sections, and increasing the participation of women and underrepresented minorities in his study section. Tol also advised innumerable young biochemists who became successful grant writers and prominent researchers.

In 1994, Tol joined NIGMS as chief of the Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) Branch. In this position, he found his true calling, because he was a great and natural mentor and was able to continue to touch the lives and careers of many.  Dr. Tolliver is probably be best remembered as the “father” of the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students, or ABRCMS.  Now in its 19th year, ABRCMS has grown to a 4-day event that attracts more than 3000 student and other participants from across the nation.

Understanding Interventions honors Dr. Toliver’s relentless behind-the-scenes deeds by recognizing a presentation at the UI Annual Conference that exemplifies the return on investing in the next generation.  In presenting this award, UI moves Tol’s legacy out of the shadows and into the spotlight of the community whose foundation he helped to build.

Awardees

2020
Angela Byars-Winston, Ph.D.
Professor
University of Wisconsin–Madison (UW)

Dr. Angela Byars-Winston is a Professor of Internal Medicine at the University of Wisconsin–Madison (UW). She was the first African American to achieve the rank of tenured Full Professor of medicine at the UW. She studies the impact of culture on career development, in particular for women and minorities in STEM. She is also the Director of Research and Evaluation in the UW Center for Women’s Health Research, associate director in the Collaborative Center for Health Equity, and faculty lead in the Center for the Improvement of Mentored Experiences in Research.

Byars-Winston earned her bachelor’s (1991) and master’s (1992) degree at San Diego State University. She completed a predoctoral clinical fellowship at the University of Maryland, College Park. She attended graduate school at Arizona State University, specializing in counseling psychology. Her 1996 dissertation placed her on the national policy-making stage. She was one of only two black PhD students in the School of Education at Arizona State University in the fall of 1992.

In 2011, Dr. Byars-Winston was selected as a Champion of Change by the White House through President Obama’s Winning the Future initiative for her research efforts to diversify science fields. She received the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s 2014 Outstanding Woman of Color Award and is an elected Fellow in the American Psychological Association. Dr. Byars-Winston is a member of the STEM Equity Pipeline National Advisory Board and the National Academy of Sciences’ Board of Higher Education and Workforce (BHEW) through which she served as chair of the 2019 consensus study on Effective Mentoring in STEMM.

Byars-Winston joined the University of Wisconsin–Madison as a KL2 scholar in 1997.[6][7] She joined the School of Medicine in 2011 and became interested in whether people bring their identity to the foreground of their college experience.[8] She was awarded a $1.4 million R01 National Institutes of Health grant to investigate how mentors define diversity and developing ways to measure the impact of mentored research experiences on career outcomes.[6] She is part of a $19 million National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN).[6][9][10] She has investigated how to measure mentoring interventions.[11] She has conducted a longitudinal study that monitored how the relationships between undergraduate mentees and their mentors in the biological sciences impact their academic outcomes.[12]

One of the approaches to meet the skills gap in the United States is to engage African Americans, Latino/as, South East Asians, and Native Americans (‘ALANA’) with science and engineering subjects.[13] Byars-Winston used social cognitive career theory to examine how ethnicity influenced academic self-efficacy and outcomes.[13] She has identified several barriers to the progression of ALANA investigators, including the marginalization of interests, apartheid within academia and microaggressions.[14] Byars-Winston demonstrated that race and ethnicity impact career expectations more than aspirations.[15] She launched the Training and Education to Advance Minority Scholars in Science program (TEAM-Science) and Culturally Aware Mentoring (CAM) programs, which look to embed self-reflective dialogue about race and ethnicity in science.[16][17] She is working with the National Academy to examine the effectiveness of programs that look engage individuals marginalized in STEM fields.

Barack Obama named Byars-Winston as one of the United States’ Champions of Change in 2011. The Presidency of Barack Obama established a Educate to Innovate campaign, which looked to improve the engagement of young people with science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). She is a member of the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity STEM Equity Pipeline National Advisory Board and Wisconsin Career Development Association Executive Committee.

She won the University of Wisconsin–Madison Outstanding Woman of Color Award in 2014. In 2016 Byars-Winston was a Visiting Professor at Purdue University, where she ran a series of mentoring workshops. She published the Promising Practices for Strengthening the Regional STEM Workforce Development Ecosystem. In 2017 Byars-Winston became the first African American to achieve the rank of tenured Full Professor of medicine at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She was elected to the National Academy of Sciences Board of Higher Education and Workforce (BHEW). She was the principal investigator on a National Institutes of Health (NIH) R01 grant to measure and test critical factors in research training interventions for mentors of ethnically diverse mentees in biological science. She co-led an NIH R01 grant to investigate and intervene on research mentors’ cultural diversity awareness, and was a co-investigator on the National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN) Phase 1 grant from the NIH in the Mentor Training Core. She is currently the principal investigator in NRMN Phase 2 leading the Culturally Aware Mentorship initiative.

2019
Carrie A. Cameron, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Department of Behavioral Science, Division of OVP, Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas
Adjunct Associate Professor, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Houston, Texas
Adjunct Associate Professor, The University of Texas School of Public Health, Houston, Texas

Carrie Cameron is the Associate Director of the MD Anderson Cancer Prevention Research Training Program (CPRTP) and Associate Professor in the Department of Behavioral Science. She mentors junior scientists in cancer prevention research and coordinate two graduate level courses through the UT Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. For the NIGMS U01 grant “Building a Diverse Biomedical Workforce through Communication Across Differences,” as contact principal investigator, she oversees all aspects of the program, create and implement tailored educational and career development programming, and lead the research for the program. She is uniquely qualified to serve as part of this program. Her experience includes serving as contact PI on an IPERT R25, “Scientific Communication Advances Research Excellence” (GM 125640) mentor training program, implemented and tested at 4 sites nationwide, as well as serving as MPI on the preceding NIGMS R01 study of the mechanisms by which trainee SciComm skills predict intention to persist in research careers. She has trained as a linguist and have dedicated her career to language use in the research setting. She has authored multiple peer-reviewed publications on these topics in respected journals such as Academic Medicine and CBE Life Sciences Education. Her efforts in education, research training, and mentoring have been recognized with the UT Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award, membership in the UT Academy of Health Science Educators, and designation at UT Distinguished Teaching Professor. She serves on the Graduate Education Committee, served as past chair of the MD Anderson Postdoctoral Advisory Committee and am active in institutional-level and extramural RCR and Rigor and Reproducibility education activities.

2018
Richard McGee, Jr, PhD
Associate Dean for Faculty Recruitment & Professional Development
Professor of Medical Education
Northwestern University

Rick McGee, leader of the SCRDG, has over 30 years of experience, first as a successful cellular neurobiologist and pharmacology professor, leader of PhD and MD/PhD programs, designer of programs and interventions to guide development of young scientists, and Program Director for numerous NIH-funded diversity initiatives.  In the past 15 years, he has shifted from laboratory research to social-science research to study research training in addition to leading it. In his current academic position, he is responsible for guiding the development of research expertise of young clinical and basic science faculty. He currently is PI of 5 NIH-funded research and research training program awards. He also has much experience as a program evaluator and evaluation consultant to research training programs around the U.S.

My primary research and academic interests are in the development of young scientists. My work in this arena spans the continuum including: the ‘basic science’ of how undergraduate and PhD student fine tune career decision with a longitudinal study of 500 students; application and study of new coaching-based models to support early PhD students; use of group-based models to assist junior faculty develop as scientists; a randomized controlled trial of a totally different approach to fostering diversity in academia.

2017
Molly Carnes, Ph.D.
Co-Director, Women in Science & Engineering Leadership Institute (WiSELI)/Professor, Departments of Medicine, Psychiatry, and Industrial & Systems Engineering/Director, University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW) Center for Women’s Health Research
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Dr. Molly Carnes is a professor in the Departments of Medicine (Geriatrics), Psychiatry, and Industrial & Systems Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She did her undergraduate work at the University of Michigan, received her MD from SUNY at Buffalo, and did her Internal Medicine residency and Geriatrics fellowship at the University of Wisconsin where she also received an MS in Epidemiology. Dr. Carnes directs the Center for Women’s Health Research in the School of Medicine and Public Health, the Women Veterans Health Program, and co-directs the Women in Science and Engineering Leadership Institute in the College of Engineering.

The overall goal of her research program is to develop, implement, and study interventions that ensure the opportunity for participation and advancement of talented individuals from groups that have been underrepresented in academic science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine (STEMM) – particularly at the leadership levels. Using UW-Madison as a “living laboratory” for achieving STEMM workforce diversity, she employs both quantitative and qualitative methods with multi-level interventions at the individual and institutional level.

Dr. Carnes initially began conceptualizing STEMM workforce diversity issues from an epidemiological perspective (i.e., what was “killing” talented women and minority trainees and faculty off as they progressed toward the professoriate) and she has progressively moved toward an organizational change approach. For the past decade, she has been studying ways in which unconscious (implicit) assumptions about groups underrepresented in STEMM infiltrate decision-making processes and conspire unintentionally against STEMM workforce diversity. Her current research, funded by the NIH, aims to effect institutional change by promoting “bias literacy” among STEMM faculty and developing a variety of tools to help faculty “break the bias habit.”

Dr. Carnes has published over 150 articles and has received a number of awards including an NSF ADVANCE Institutional Transformation Award, an NIH Director’s Pathfinder Award for Research to Promote Scientific Workforce Diversity and an NIH Transformative R01 to Explore the Science of Scientific Review.

2016
Wesley Schultz, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychological Science
Scientific Advisor
California State University

Wesley Schultz is Professor of Psychology at CSUSM, where he teaches courses in social psychology, environmental psychology, and statistics. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Irvine in 1990, and his Ph.D. from Claremont Graduate University in 1995.

Professor Schultz is a social psychologist, whose research focuses on social influence and behavior change. Much of his research involves the application of social psychological principles or methods to understand and solve social problems. Recent projects include studies on environmental programs (e.g., energy conservation, water conservation, recycling, and green marketing), the behavioral dimensions of climate change, cross-cultural research on environmental attitudes, and longitudinal research on programs aimed at encouraging underrepresented students to pursue careers in science.

Currently, Schultz serves as past president of the International Association of Applied Psychology, Environmental Psychology Division. He serves on the board of directors at Keep America Beautiful, and he is a fellow at the Association for Psychological Science, the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, and was elected to membership of the Society for Experimental Social Psychology. He is an active writer and editor, and is currently serving as associate editor for the Journal of Environmental Psychology.

2015
Claudia Rankins, Ph.D.
Program Officer, Historically Black Colleges and Universities – Undergraduate Program (HBCU-UP)
National Science Foundation

Claudia Rankins is a Program Officer in the Directorate for Education and Human Resources at the National Science Foundation, where she manages the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Undergraduate Program and the Centers for Research Excellence in Science and Technology. Prior to this, Dr. Rankins served at Hampton University for 22 years in a number of capacities, including endowed university professor, chair of the department of physics, assistant dean for research, and dean of the School of Science.

Her formal education includes military training, certification as translator and interpreter for German, French and English, a B.S. in Mathematics from Christopher Newport University, an M.S. in Statistics from Old Dominion University, an M.S. in Physics, and a Ph.D. in Physics both from Hampton University.

Since 1998, Dr. Rankins secured over $10 million in external grants that supported pre-college activities as well as undergraduate education and research in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Her research in theoretical particle physics focused on the development of a model to describe distribution amplitudes and form factors of pseudoscalar mesons. Dr. Rankins is the co-founder of the Society of STEM Women of Color, Inc.

Intervenor Award

In recognition of long-term, sustained support of research, policy, and practice that creates opportunities for individuals and organizations to prepare for and ascend to a career in science, Understanding Interventions presents the Intervenor Award.

The recipient of this award is an individual who has changed the trajectory of participation and success to the benefit of the larger science community. However, the impact cannot adequately be measured in enrollments or degrees. Rather, the Intervenor has lifted both the spirit and performance of so many, and inspired the UI community to do better and more in creative and manifestly successful ways.

The true intervenor is critic and advocate, cheerleader and skeptic – a special blend of professional and personal qualities that cannot be ignored. Instead we celebrate.

Awardees

2020
Lydia Villa-Komaroff, Ph.D
Founder and Principal, Intersections of Science, Business, and Diversity (SBD)
Member of Committee on Equal Opportunities in Science and Engineering (CEOSE)

Lydia Villa-Komaroff, a molecular biologist, executive, diversity advocate and founder of Intersections of Science, Business, and Diversity (SBD), received her BA from Goucher College and her Ph.D. in Cell Biology from MIT; her advisors were David Baltimore and Harvey Lodish. As a postdoc in Walter Gilbert’s laboratory, she was lead author of a landmark paper reporting the first synthesis of mammalian insulin in bacterial cells. During her career as a bench scientist, she focused on using the methods of recombinant DNA to address a number of fundamental questions in different fields. By collaborating with neurologists, developmental biologists, endocrinologists, and cell biologists, her lab was part of the transformation of molecular biology from a field to an essential tool.

Dr. Villa-Komaroff is a board member and former CEO and CSO of Cytonome/ST (“Cytonome”), a company developing and manufacturing purpose-built cell sorters. She also serves on the board of the Massachusetts Life Science Center (Gubernatorial appointment) and the board of directors of ATCC, an independent, private, nonprofit biological resource center and research organization. She is a member of the National Research Council standing Committee on Women in Science, Engineering and Medicine and co-chaired a sub-committee that planned and conducted the workshop “Seeking Solutions: Maximizing American Talent by Advancing Women of Color in Academia” (2013). She is a founding member of the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS); the Society is the recipient of the National Science Board’s Public Service Award for contributions and the national Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring. She has been a board member and Vice President of SACNAS and currently serves as a member of the Committee of Senior Advisors.

Dr. Villa-Komaroff held faculty positions at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, Children’s Hospital, Boston, and Harvard Medical School. As an administrator she served as Acting Director of the Division of Neuroscience, Children’s Hospital; Vice President for Research at Northwestern University in Illinois; and Vice President for Research and Chief Operating Officer of the Whitehead Institute (Cambridge, MA). She served on the board of Transkaryotic Therapies, Inc., a publicly-traded biopharmaceutical company that developed products for the treatment of rare diseases before it was acquired by Shire Pharmaceuticals (2003-2005, Chair, 2005).

Dr. Villa-Komaroff was elected to the AAAS Board (2001-2005), served on the Advisory Councils for National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke (2000-2004), and the Biology Directorate of NSF (1994-1999, Chair, 1997-1998). She has served on review committees for both NSF and NIH. She was a member of the 2012 US delegation to the Asian-Pacific Economic Conference-Women and the Economy Forum held in Russia. She chaired the minority affairs committees of the American Society for Cell Biology and the Society for Neuroscience.

Dr. Villa-Komaroff is a fellow of AAAS and AWIS. She has been honored by election to the Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Hall of Fame, was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by Hispanic Business Magazine, was named 2008 Hispanic Scientist of the Year by the Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa, Florida, and 2013 Woman of Distinction by the American Association of University Women.

2019
John Matsui, Ph.D
Director & Co-Founder of the Biology Scholars Program (BSP)
Assistant Dean, Biological Sciences
University of California, Berkeley

John Matsui is the product of the California Community College and University of California systems. Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Dr. Matsui grew up in a low-income household in the flats of West Berkeley. His personal background and life experiences have driven what he has done professionally.

As Director and co-founder of the Biology Scholars Program (BSP) he has been committed to make biology at Berkeley accessible to all students with an interest. His goal has been to “level the playing field” for individuals who, like himself, do not fit the historical profile of success and to help them become leaders in their future science-related careers.

He states the reason he chose to start BSP is captured by the phrase “professional is personal” — where his personal background and experiences have driven what he has done professionally. As Director and co-Founder of BSP his commitment is to make biology at Berkeley accessible to all students with an interest. Through the BSP, his goal is to “level the playing field” for individuals who, like himself, do not fit the historical profile of success and to help them become leaders in their future science-related careers. For more than 26 years, he has learned from over 3,500 program members how UC Berkeley can better train and support its undergraduate and graduate students in biology. For his work, Dr. Matsui has received the 2014 SACNAS Distinguished Mentor Award and the 2015 NSF Presidential Mentoring (PAESMEM) Award.

2018
Shirley Mathis McBay
, Ph.D.
Retired

Dr. Shirley Mathis McBay is the founder and former president of the Quality Education for Minorities (QEM) Network, a non-profit dedicated to improving minority education. She was the Dean for Student Affairs at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 1980 to 1990. She was the first African-American to receive a PhD from the University of Georgia (1966, Mathematics). McBay is recognized by Mathematically Gifted & Black as a Black History Month 2017 Honoree.

McBay received a BA in chemistry from Paine College in 1954, graduating summa cum laude. While also teaching chemistry at Spelman College, McBay earned an MS in chemistry (1957) and MS in mathematics (1958) from Atlanta University. In 1964, she earned a United Negro College Fund Fellowship, sponsored by the IBM Corporation, that allowed her to study at the University of Georgia and earn a PhD in mathematics in 1966. Her PhD was advised by Thomas Roy Brahana with a dissertation on The Homology Theory of Metabelian Lie Algebras.

McBay spent 15 years at Spelman College as a faculty member and administrator. McBay’s leadership at Spelman led to the creation of the Division of Natural Sciences and an increase in an emphasis on the sciences at the institution. She served as chairman of the division until 1975 and as Associate Academic Dean at Spelman from 1973-1975. During this time, she created pre-freshman summer programs to increase interest in science majors, which led to the creation of a chemistry department and renovations of existing science buildings.

McBay left Spelman in 1975 and took a position at the National Science Foundation for 5 years. While at the National Science Foundation, she became program director of the Minority Institutions Science Improvement Program. She then worked for 10 years at MIT as the Dean for Student Affairs. 30 months of this time included being the director of the QEM Project, a study of minority education problems. The QEM Project was the impetus for the Quality Education for Minorities (QEM) Network which McBay founded and was president of from 1990 to 2016.

2017
Roger Chalkley, Ph.D.
Senior Associate Dean for Biomedical Research, Education and Training (BRET), Molecular Physiology and Biophysics
Professor, Medical Education and Administration
Vanderbilt University, School of Medicine

Roger Chalkley, Ph.D., is Senior Associate Dean of Biomedical Research Education and Training at the Vanderbilt School of Medicine. Dr. Chalkley is responsible for the overview of the activities of the office of Biomedical Research Education and Training, including oversight of the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program (IGP), the MD/PhD Program, Post-Doctoral Affairs, Graduate Student Affairs as well as Minority Activities and supporting Training Grant applications. Dr. Chalkley was educated at Pembroke College, Oxford in Chemistry and did his Post-Doctoral research in gene regulation and chromatin structure in the laboratory of James Bonner at Caltech. After almost 20 years in the Biochemistry Department at the University of Iowa School of Medicine, he moved to Vanderbilt in 1986. He has published almost 200 papers in chromatin research. Dr. Chalkley has had an active interest in graduate education for many years and was involved in the establishment of the IGP where he served as Director for the last 8 years. Although Dr. Chalkley is known for his role in supporting graduate students who come in through Vanderbilt’s biomedical research umbrella programs-—the IGP and the Quantitative and Chemical Biology Program—and the IMSD, few of the current students realize that he himself was a prolific scientist.

2016
Martin Chemers, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus
University of California Santa Cruz

Martin Chemers, a fellow of the American Psychological Association, a fellow of the American Psychological Society, and president-elect of the Society of Experimental Social Psychology, Chemers received his B.S. (Honors) in 1964, his M.S. in 1966, and his Ph.D. in 1968, all from the University of Illinois.

Chemers arrived at University of California Santa Cruz in 1995 as Dean of Social Sciences and Professor of Psychology. During his tenure as Dean, the College Nine and College Ten complex was completed, and with Chemers’s leadership, was organized to integrate the themes of the colleges with the academic strengths of the Social Sciences Division.

Chemers also initiated the Center for Justice, Tolerance, and Community, supported the development of the Center for Global, International and Regional Studies, and oversaw the creation of 17 new academic programs, including the Ph.D. in education, several multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary programs, such as the STEPS Institute, and business management economics, the fastest-growing undergraduate major on campus.

Prior to coming to Santa Cruz, Chemers was Henry R. Kravis Professor of Leadership and Organizational Psychology and director of the Kravis Leadership Institute at Claremont McKenna College. Previous to his appointment at Claremont, he was professor and chairman of the Department of Psychology at the University of Utah, from 1970 to 1987. He also has held academic positions at the University of Delaware.

Chemers has earned an international reputation for his research and teaching in organizational psychology. He is widely regarded among social psychologists as one of the foremost scholars on cross-cultural and social psychological aspects of leadership. He has published numerous books and articles in prestigious journals on subjects that include leadership effectiveness and organizational development. His latest book is An Integrative Theory of Leadership, published in 1997 by Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Chemers’ research was focused on psychological factors that affect the success of underrepresented minority students in science and mathematics careers. He worked on a grant from the National Institutes of Health, Chemers’ research had shown that science inquiry self-efficacy (i.e., confidence in scientific skills and knowledge) and identity as a scientist mediate the effects of various kinds of support programs. Key features that affect efficacy identity are authentic research experiences and high-quality mentoring.

2015
Clifton Poodry, PhD
University of Oregon

Dr. Poodry is currently a Courtesy Professor at the University of Oregon where he participates in the instruction of an ethics course for graduate students. He was a Professor of Biology at the University of California, Santa Cruz where he also served in several administrative capacities. As a rotating Program Director for Developmental Biology at the National Science Foundation, Poodry developed the minority supplement initiative that was copied widely at NSF and later at NIH. He was the Director of the Training, Workforce Development and Diversity Division at the National Institute for General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), NIH, where he was responsible for developing and implementing NIGMS policies and plans for research training programs and capacity building programs that reflect NIGMS’ long-standing commitment to research training and the development of a highly capable, diverse biomedical and behavioral research workforce. At NIH he developed the Institutional Research and Academic Career Development Award (IRACDA) in which postdocs, as part of mentored training, teach at minority serving institutions. He developed a new research initiative designed to understand the efficacy of interventions and thus inform future planning of student development activities. He also developed the Native American Research Centers for Health program in collaboration with the Indian Health Service. As a Senior Fellow in the Science Education Department at HHMI he led the Gilliam Fellowship Program and an experiment for adoption/adaptation of the UMBC Meyerhoff Program.

Dr. Poodry is a native of the Tonawanda Seneca Indian Reservation in Western New York. He earned both a B.A. and an M.A. in Biology at the State University of New York at Buffalo, and received a Ph.D. in Biology from Case Western Reserve University.  He has served on the advisory boards of both AISES and SACNAS.