NEWT Culture of Inclusion Awards 2022

NEWT’s Inclusion Oversight Board (IOB) is pleased to announce the recipients of NEWT’s inaugural D&I Faculty/Staff and Student Recognition Awards. For the faculty/staff track, the recipient is  Dr. Rafael Verduzco of Rice University.
For the student track, the recipients were Joshua Samba and Tanya Rogers of Rice University and Julianna Rolf of Yale University. These were difficult decisions as the nominations we received were outstanding. We appreciate all of the work our members are doing to ensure NEWT has a culture of inclusion and is making strides to recruit and retain members of underrepresented groups. Many thanks to all of you for your support of NEWT’s diversity and inclusion initiatives.

Joshua Samba

I am very honored to have received this award. Serving as NEWT's DEI Co-Chair this year has given me the opportunity to work closely with some amazing people. It has been a blast developing and organizing workshops and book clubs with Julianne Rolf, Theresa Chatman, and Chris Barr. Being recognized for these efforts emphasizes the importance that NEWT places on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, which is why I love being a part of this community. As an underrepresented minority pursuing an advanced STEM degree, I know firsthand the importance of community, and how having a safe and accepting environment is integral to success in such an arduous field. These feelings are what motivate me to continue my work in making the NEWT center a more diverse, welcoming, and safe environment for students, faculty, staff, and industry members.

Julianne Rolf

NEWT's mission to increase water access globally requires the best minds working together in the most efficient way possible. In order to do that, we need a supportive, respectful, and inclusive culture where we all can thrive, regardless of who we are and what our background is. I am beyond grateful to NEWT for dedicating resources and time to DEI efforts, and I'm honored to have received one of this year's D&I Recognition Awards.

Tanya Rogers

I’m proud of NEWT’s exemplary diverse and inclusive environment, catalyzing authentic engagement across the center to foster a community of acceptance and belonging. By creating safe and open spaces to acknowledge obvious, inapparent, inherent, and acquired differences amongst people, we cultivate a mentality of welcomeness, helping everyone feel valued, appreciated, and respected. I challenge myself and others to continuously and humbly reflect on our practices and efforts to maintain a sustainable culture of diversity and inclusion, and I’m honored to work alongside each and every one of you.

Rafael Verduzco

I’m extremely honored to receive this award and would like to thank NEWT faculty, staff, students, postdocs, and collaborators for fostering a supportive and collaborative environment at NEWT. While we hear a lot about the research produced by NEWT, I think NEWT is also unique for building such a strong and close-knit community. This has been made possible through positive mentoring, impactful collaborations, and extremely dedicated members. This community and environment has allowed us to diversify by bringing in new members and effectively integrating them into NEWT. Ultimately, to address the lack in diversity across science and engineering more broadly, I believe we need to see more of this type of community-building. I look forward to continuing to work with NEWT to prioritize diversity and hopefully serve as a positive example for others.

NEWT’s Inclusion Oversight Board (IOB) obtains nomination letters for its inaugural NEWT Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Recognition Award. The purpose of this award is to recognize those who have demonstrated a strong commitment to NEWT’s diversity and inclusion efforts. There are two tracks, one for students and one for faculty and staff and carries an honorarium of $500 each. Self-nominations are also welcomed.

Our D&I objectives are:

1. Develop, promote, and sustain a culture of inclusion through a series of efforts that allow all NEWT participants to feel welcomed, be acknowledged, feel safe, and succeed.

2. Recruit, support, and retain a diverse cadre of personnel.

To learn more, contact Theresa Chatman