Inclusive Excellence in Life Sciences is an approach to education that promotes a positive research and learning environment in and outside of the classroom so that all undergraduate and graduate students and researchers at UCLA can thrive—regardless of race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, first-generation college student status, immigration status, gender, sexual orientation, or disability. UCLA admits the top students from the largest undergraduate applicant pool in the United States; these students aim to be the next leaders in the scientific workforce. The College’s professors are a committed group of leading scientists and educators who are changing how UCLA faculty teach, mentor, and support students to ensure that every student has an equal opportunity to excel and graduate with an outstanding science education and the skills to define their own future.

The Division of Life Sciences (LS), under the direction of Dean Johnson (MPI), is committed to EDI. Efforts include nurturing a supportive infrastructure, dedicated full-time employees (including an Equity Officer, Associate Dean, and GBP Director for Recruitment & Inclusion), programs for students, staff, and faculty, and integration with broader efforts across the campus. LS also engages a Diversity Advisory Committee. A sample of highlighted resources from Dr. Johnson’s efforts and those of LS and its related Departments is listed below:

Anti-Racism Task Force: As Dean of Life Sciences, Dr. Johnson convened a Life Sciences Anti-Racism Taskforce. The group comprised a diverse group of faculty, staff, undergraduates, graduate students, postdocs, and lecturers and was charged with identifying issues, structures, and practices that (1) eliminate barriers to equity, diversity, and inclusion, (2) foster an anti-racist culture in the Life Sciences, and (3) provide recommendations to achieve these goals. The taskforce explored five key themes at UCLA; 1) Culture and Climate, 2) Recruitment and Diversity, 3) Mentorship and Training, 4) Data, and 5) Funding and Resources. From these, the taskforce produced a broad range of 133 recommendations. These recommendations have been disseminated and are in the process of implementation by Life Sciences Departments. Anticipated outcomes include training and education, data and evaluation, and policy changes towards creating an anti-racist culture both near-term and beyond in the Life Sciences division.

UCLA Building Excellence for STEM Transfers: The UCLA Building Excellence for STEM Transfers (BEST) program is supported by an Inclusive Excellence grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). This program focuses on strengthening the transition from community college to UCLA. Transfer students make up 36% of the student pool and contribute significantly to the diversity of UCLA undergraduates. About 34% of UCLA transfer students come from underrepresented minority groups; over 40% of the transfer students are first generation college students; and 50% are or have been federal Pell grant recipients, among the highest in the nation among elite institutions.

While UCLA has a history of innovative programs that promote inclusive excellence for STEM students, these have largely focused on direct entry students. UCLA’s BEST is focused on ensuring that transfer students have equal access to a high-quality STEM education that supports their persistence in STEM majors and increases their entrée into a range of STEM careers. All of these activities will be enhanced through coordinated data collection, analysis, and dissemination among campus stakeholders to build institutional capacity, which will benefit all students.

For more information, see the Life Sciences DEI website and the BEST webpage

Last updated
November 16, 2023