Diversity at NEWT

Photo of Student Leadership Council

Our Diversity and Inclusion goals

The goal of NEWT’s diversity and inclusion efforts are to maintain an enriching culture of excellence by acknowledging, educating, appreciating and nurturing diversity, and to enable researchers from a variety of backgrounds to synergize and solve problems in more creative and innovative ways. We hold diversity and inclusion awareness sessions, both in person and online. We also have robust recruiting efforts to ensure the engagement of women and traditionally underrepresented groups in our research labs, as well as our summer programming for teachers and K12 and undergraduate students.

  • Recruit, support, and retain a diverse cadre of faculty, staff, and K-12 teachers
  • Support and retain a diverse cadre of researchers: undergraduates, graduates and postdocs
  • Develop, promote, and sustain a culture of inclusion through a series of efforts that allows all NEWT participants to feel welcomed, be acknowledged, feel safe, and succeed


  • Rice is welcoming Dr. Beza Getachew (Ph.D. from a NEWT lab at Yale, postdoc at MIT), who specializes in advanced membranes for water treatment.
  • The D&I team attended several conferences and events for recruitment and synergy with minority serving institutions, including the NSF/AAAS-sponsored Emerging Researchers National (ERN) Conference and the National Organization for Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE) national conference where we interacted with more than 60 students and advisors.
  • NEWT added another module to its suite of online offerings, “Becky and the Disappearing Supplement.”

At the NEWT mid-year team meeting held at Arizona State University in October of 2019, we also hosted three in-person diversity and inclusion sessions where we addressed implicit biases were given tips on serving as allies for the LGBTQ+ communities examined how much our diverse groups also share in common as we work together…

to cultivate a research-intensive community that encourages an increasingly diverse, engaged, and high-performing workforce consistent with the goals of the National Science Foundation.

Underrepresented Racial Minorities in the ERC 2023

Underrepresented Racial Minorities in the ERC 2023

Persons with Disabilities in the ERC 2023

Disability Figures in the ERC 2023

Women in the ERC 2023

Chart showing Women Representation in the ERC 2023
Hispanic/Latino in the ERC 2023Chart showing Hispanic/Latino Representation in the ERC 2023

NEWT is committed to myriad awareness sessions to ensure we are providing a diverse and inclusive community. To that end, the suite of online modules include a best practice module that provides tips on developing and maintaining productive mentoring relationships between faculty and students, with a special focus on inclusion. Other modules within the series provide examples that cover implicit and explicit biases, along with suggestions on how to manage these types of situations.

Diversity and Inclusion Awareness Sessions

Best Practices from NEWT Center on Vimeo.

The Story of Javier from NEWT Center on Vimeo.

Case Study 3, Becky and the Disappearing Supplement

Case Study 4, Faculty – The Case of Barbara

ASU Diversity – Women Stereotypes from NEWT Center on Vimeo.


Inclusion Oversight Board (IOB)

Theresa Chatman

Ms. Theresa Chatman, Director of Diversity and Inclusion for Research Grants at Rice University, leads the diversity and inclusion efforts, both on campus and at partner institutions, for the National Science Foundation’s (NSF’s) Nanotechnology Enabled Water Treatment (NEWT) and the Precise Advanced Technologies and Health Systems for Underserved Populations (PATHS-UP) Engineering Research Centers. She has 30 years of experience in directing the broadening participation efforts of large NSF centers, and she has been instrumental in many national partnerships and events designed to broaden participation, particularly for underrepresented minorities (URMs).

Roland Smith

Dr. Smith served as a member of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Federal Holiday Congressional Commission. He also served as the charter president of the American Association of Blacks in Higher Education (AABHE) and as a board member for the Texas Association of Black Personnel in Higher Education (TABPHE). Born in Washington, DC, he holds a BA degree in Anthropology and Sociology from Bowie State University and a MPA degree from Indiana University. He holds an Ed.D. degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Terry Alford

Professor Terry Alford, Associate Director and Professor, School of Engineering of Matter, Transport, and Energy at Arizona State University (ASU), is the 2009 ASU Graduate Mentor of The Year, and has myriad other honors and awards for the mentoring of graduate students in the US and Africa including: National Consortium for Graduate Degrees for Minorities in Engineering and Science (GEM) Alumni Award – Outstanding Achievement in Academia, Golden Torch Pioneer of the Year Award – National Society of the Black Engineers, Outstanding Faulty Advisor – ASU African American Alumni Association, and ASU Graduate Women’s Association Outstanding Mentor.

Eduardo Pagan

Dr. Eduardo Pagán, Arizona State University’s (ASU’s) Bob Stump Endowed Professor of History has served as a vice provost for inclusion and excellence and a senior program officer at the National Endowment for the Humanities in Washington, D.C., with a portfolio that worked with Historically Black Universities and Colleges, Tribal Colleges, and Hispanic-Serving Institutions. Pagán was one of the hosts of History Detectives (PBS), a historical consultant with American Experience (PBS), and has appeared in national and international documentaries and television shows.

Ivonne Santiago

Dr. Ivonne Santiago’s research focuses on the development of innovative technologies to treat surface, ground, and reclaimed water. Her emphasis is on technologies that are efficient and yet sustainable and resilient, such as the use of zeolites and agricultural waste.

Sarah Miller

Dr. Sarah Miller serves as Assistant Dean for Science and Engineering at Yale. Prior to that, she was the Associate Dean for Access, Inclusion & Student Programs at the University of Colorado Boulder’s College of Engineering & Applied Science. In that role, she served as the college’s chief diversity officer and was PI of two NSF INCLUDES grants focused on lowering barriers to transfer for community college students. She has worked as a teacher and administrator in public K-12 schools and at the National Science Foundation in the CISE broadening participation portfolio.

Christina Crawford

Christina Crawford is the  Associate Director for Science and Engineering at the Rice Office of STEM Engagement (R-STEM). Currently, she works with teachers to explore both science and engineering concepts and how they can be taught using inquiry & project-based methods. Christina also works with the NEWT Center and leads their Nanotechnology Environmental Engineering for Teachers (NEET) and NEWT Research Experience for Teachers (RET) programs. As the delegate for the Pre-College Commission for Diversity Equity & Inclusion – American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE), Christina works to educate K-12 teachers on essential issues, policies, and practices for promoting inclusive mindsets and behaviors.  She currently has a B.S. in Biology from Texas A & M – Corpus Christi, M.S.Ed from the University of Houston, and is a Ph.D. student at the University of Houston studying Urban Education.

Julianne Rolf is a PhD Candidate in Prof. Menachem Elimelech’s research group in the Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering (CEE) at Yale University. Julianne’s research focus includes the impact of antiscalants on membrane surfaces as well as membrane surface modifications for membrane distillation. While growing up in California, she often experienced water scarcity, which inspired her to pursue a research career in Environmental Engineering. She also actively works to make the field more diverse, equitable, and inclusive through her volunteer efforts as a mentor to undergraduate students, CEE representative in Yale’s Graduate Student Assembly, Co-Chair of Equity in the Job Search Symposium, and member of Yale’s Title IX Advisory Board. 

Joshua Samba

Joshua Samba earned his B.S. and M.S. in Physics at Morgan State University, where he studied the fabrication and application of crystalline, magnetic nanowires. Upon enrolling in the Applied Physics PhD program at Rice University, he decided to shift his research focus to water treatment in order to apply his knowledge of physics to helping solve the global issue of clean water access. His current research involves improving the photocatalytic degradation of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) with heat generated from radio frequency alternating magnetic fields (AMF-RF). Joshua was born and raised in Prince George’s County, MD, but now calls Houston, TX his home. His dream is to one day enter the professoriate and teach at the university level. When he is not in class or in the lab, he loves to spend time at home with his fiancée, Ashley, and their dog, Charlie.

NEWT Culture of Inclusion Resources

SafeZONE is an interactive learning experience designed to raise awareness of the diverse expressions of gender and sexual identity. What are ways in which you can continue to learn more about LGBTQIA individuals? and the community?

Download the NEWT SafeZONE Presentation and SafeZONE Vocabulary resources provided by Nakita Saxon, Student and Cultural Engagement Assistant Director (He/Him) from Arizona State University.

Important Reads

A guide to how gender-neutral language is developing around the world

Essay: Asian Americans quietly made Houston history. Now we must be heard.

Listen Up: Engineering Change Podcast 

Dr. Yvette Pearson's Podcast
Engineering Change is the podcast designed to help REDEFINE engineering education by: RE-imaging who we see as engineers and what we see as engineering, DE-siloing academic programs and problem solving, and FINE-tuning academic culture and climate so people from all backgrounds can succeed. Each episode leaves students, faculty, and administrators with strategies they can put into practice wherever they are in the process of ENGINEERING CHANGE. Podcast: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/engineering-change-podcast/id1512715975

Funding Opportunities for Underrepresented Populations

The Office of Diversity and Inclusion, with its objective to support and guide students by facilitating environments that promote diversity, inclusion, and academic achievement, maintains a list of myriad funding opportunities available for underrepresented populations. Student opportunities listed here: https://diversity.rice.edu/graduate-recruitment-retention.

Have a question? Get in touch with Theresa Chatman.