| in Community, Diversity & Inclusion

We are thrilled to announce the inaugural recipients of the CAS Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Access, Leadership (IDEAL) awards. These awards celebrate the impactful efforts of individuals and groups whose contributions exemplify recognizing and responding to inequity, exclusion, and marginalization through thoughtful and innovative approaches.

Jena DiMaggio, PhD candidate in the Department of English

One nominator writes, Jena is “a fierce advocate for improving the department’s expression of diversity and inclusion” and their impact “supporting their fellow graduate students, in particular.”

As the first graduate representative of English’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee Jena advocated to secure extra funding for MA students of color. This advocacy improved access for a wider range of students and resulted in the department’s most diverse MA and first-year PhD class ever. Jena also led efforts to increase the pedagogical skill of graduate students in English and was a co-organizer of unionizing efforts among graduate students.

Nishaat Mukadam, Clinical Psychology graduate student

Nominators noted a “consistent and clear pattern of commitment to DEI in her research.”

Nishaat works within a multidisciplinary and intercollegiate research group. The group uses functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) as a portable method of collecting brain activity data. Through her involvement in its Inclusivity Project Nishaat has volunteered to lead the effort to recruit more diverse populations for imaging studies. Through this the research team hopes to collect data from individuals whose skin pigmentation and hair texture make it more difficult to get a good fNIRS signal correcting practices that have historically limited inclusion of persons of color.

Her clinical training and experiences as a graduate student led her to note the need in the clinic for supervision specific to BIPOC therapists and the dynamics they experience in therapy sessions with patients. These recommendations led to curricular changes in the practicum curriculum.

Her recommenders listed these among several and concluded that “her commitment to DEI is aspirational and has the potential to influence multiple fields of research and clinical care for the better.”

Indara Suarez, Assistant Professor, Department of Physics 

Nominators wrote “her deep commitment to increasing diversity here at BU, as well as her increasingly powerful voice at the National and International level in conversations about DEI and STEM.” Her nominators recognized her contributions to undergraduate research, recruiting and supporting underrepresented students, mentoring students, and advancing equity and advocacy in the field.

She was first noted for advancing the Physics Department’s NSF-funded BU-PRO Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program which was recognized as an important opportunity to bring STEM students into the Physics community from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences.

Second, Professor Suarez’s leadership has also been “crucial in recruiting a diverse set of students” utilizing her contacts at multiple institutions and professional organizations resourcefully. She was also pivotal in helping develop a program that showed participants paths to success while building skills and developing camaraderie.

Third, in her research group, Indara is recognized as “playing a leading role as mentor to an unusually large number of undergraduate researchers.”

Finally, her active community engagement was noted including co-organizing and speaking during a day of reflection at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in support of Black Lives Matter events; serving as a panelist at Globalminded, an international network promoting inclusive success for all students; and active involvement with Graduate Women in Science and Engineering BU Day of Diversity in STEM@Boston University, the BU Artemis program, and the 2023 Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics.