MCB Commitment to Diversity

MCB Statements

The community of biologists in the School of Molecular and Cellular Biology at the University of Illinois is committed to understanding life at the organismal, cellular, and molecular levels. Our fundamental understanding of the natural world directly impacts human health, the health of the environment, and our broader culture and society. Thus, innovation, drive, and excellence are critical to our mission.

Our entire community firmly believes that scientific discovery and advances in the life sciences can be made by anyone, and that diversity within our school drives the innovation that keeps MCB research at the forefront of scientific discovery. However, we recognize that societal, academic, and structural barriers have often kept talented individuals out of our community.

We are committed to eliminating these barriers and supporting students and scientists of all backgrounds, both to push our science to new heights and to fulfill our mission as an educational institution. We condemn racism and sexual harassment, which have long held back both individuals and science as a whole. We will not tolerate discrimination on the basis of gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability status, national origin, religion, neurological differences, or socio-economic status.

We welcome and strive to support all students as they think deeply about the molecular basis of life, work hard to understand basic biology, and share their scholarship with others.

Solidarity with Asian Communities

The MCB community stands together in denouncing all acts of hate against Asians and Asian Americans, just as we denounce all acts of intolerance and hate within and outside our MCB community. We stand in solidarity with our Asian and Asian American colleagues against the forces of intolerance and hate, just as we stand in solidarity with all members of our community who face hate or intolerance.

To be clear, all are welcome here. MCB is a community of scholars with the shared goal of understanding the foundations of life itself. We come from diverse backgrounds. Many of us have traveled far and even crossed oceans to be here so that we can work together. Many of us have traveled far from our beginnings or backgrounds where science seemed an unlikely pursuit. We stand together. We recognize that everybody in MCB wants to be here for the same overall goal. One of the great strengths of our program is its diversity. The School of MCB affirms our commitment to our principle that all are welcome here.

Inclusion requires continuous reinforcement. This isn’t just about sensitivity or hurt feelings; this is about hate. And that can make people feel not only underappreciated or unwanted, it can make them feel scared.

Read more about our response to acts of hate and learn about additional university resources, with thanks to Bill Brieher and Supriya Prasanth for their CDB message.

Outreach with STEM Illinois

The School of MCB is a proud supporter of STEM Illinois, an outreach initiative of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and community partners. STEM Illinois aims to engage with K-12 students, especially those from diverse backgrounds and different learning styles, and connect them with STEM education and career opportunities. We help produce webcast episodes featuring alumni in health professions.

Holding Up the Sky: Women's Health and Wellness

Communiversity Think-and-Do webcast on Jan. 24, 2021. Guest speakers: Dr. Brittany Cline (BS, '16, molecular and cellular biology) and Dr. Camille Johnson (BS, '16, molecular and cellular biology and psychology).

A Road Map to Becoming a Doctor: Race, Space, and COVID-19

Communiversity Think-and-Do webcast on Nov. 14, 2020. Guest speakers: Dr. Kameno Bell (BS, '92, biology), Dr. Garth Walker (BS, '09, economics), Dr. Christopher Hicks (BS, '09, kinesiology)

Physical and Mental Health Support

Disability Resources and Educational Services

Campus Counseling Center

McKinley Health Center

National Grad Crisis Line: 1.877.GRAD.HLP (1.877.472.3457)

Campus Diversity Offices

Office of Inclusion and Intercultural Relations

The Office of Inclusion and Intercultural Relations connects students with cultural centers on campus, including the Asian American Cultural Center, the Bruce B. Nesbitt African American Cultural Center, DiversityEd, International Education, the LGBT Resource Center, La Casa Cultural Latina, the Native American House, and the Women’s Resource Center. In addition, this office sponsors events on diversity, social justice, and cultural understanding, and facilitates a variety of workshops and training programs.

Office of the Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

This campus office focuses on making Illinois a place where all people can achieve their full potential as students, faculty, and staff. Staff work in areas of accessibility and accommodations, affirmative action, discrimination and harassment prevention, and Title IX.

Open Illinois

This campus office provides" information, resources and guidance for undocumented students, DACA recipients and those affected by immigration reform.

Office of Minority Student Affairs

OMSA is part of Student Affairs, and staff offer services to enhance the academic achievement, personal development, and graduation rates of first generation, low-income, and historically underrepresented students at Illinois.

Graduate College’s Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

This office in the graduate college provides internal and external fellowship support and programs for graduate students.

Student Organizations & Cultural Centers

American Medical Women’s Association at UIUC

Asian American Cultural Center

Bruce D. Nesbitt African American Cultural Center

Illini Chabad Center for Jewish Life

Illini Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life

Illinois Interfaith Initiatives

La Casa Cultural Latina

Native American House

Out in Chemistry UIUC

oSTEM (Out in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics)

Society for Advancing Chicanos/Hispanics & Native Americans in Science (SACNAS)

Society of Women Engineers

UIUC Muslim Student Association

Land Acknowledgement Statement

As a land-grant institution, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and the School of Molecular & Cellular Biology, have a responsibility to acknowledge the historical context in which it exists. In order to remind ourselves and our community, we begin events with the following statement.

We are currently on the lands of the Peoria, Kaskaskia, Piankashaw, Wea, Miami, Mascoutin, Odawa, Sauk, Mesquaki, Kickapoo, Potawatomi, Ojibwe, and Chickasaw Nations. It is necessary for us to acknowledge these Native Nations and for us to work with them as we move forward as an institution. Over the next 150 years, we will be a vibrant community inclusive of all our differences, with Native peoples at the core of our efforts.

For more information on how to include the land acknowledgement into materials or meetings, please visit:

Contact Our Committee

The MCB Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee is currently comprised of the following members:

  • Rachel Smith-Bolton, Associate Professor and Associate Head, Department of Cell and Developmental Biology (Chair)
  • Bill Brieher, Associate Professor, Department of Cell and Developmental Biology
  • Hee Jung Chung, Associate Professor, Department of Molecular & Integrative Physiology
  • Paola Mera, Assistant Professor, Department of Microbiology
  • Shawna Smith, Program Coordinator, MCB Graduate Program
  • Anna Sokac, Associate Professor, Department of Cell and Developmental Biology
  • Alejandra Stenger, Senior Coordinator for Diversity, MCB/Biochemistry Instructional Program
  • Cari Vanderpool, Professor and Associate Head, Department of Microbiology

To reach the committee, email:

Para obtener información en español, comuníquese con Alejandra Stenger - email:, teléfono: (217) 244-7241

committee members talking near conference booth
Members of the committee at the 2019 Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students.