I strongly believe in promoting and encouraging diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in STEM, and am particularly passionate about these issues in the fields of evolutionary biology and ornithology. As someone that occupies many non-majority backgrounds (e.g., first-generation college student, woman, Latinx, low SES) and received integral encouragement and support along the way, I work hard to give back from the other side.

Readings on DEI in Science

Since the start of my PhD, I have been actively collating a list of resources on diversity, equity, and inclusion in the sciences (and academia more broadly). These include shorter blogpost-style articles and published literature. Feel free to use this list for courses, websites, or personal reading! Visit Readings on Diversity in Science to see the list.

DEI-related Research

I conduct research in a variety of settings to understand how both our everyday science “culture” and specific interventions influence people from diverse backgrounds. In particular, I have worked to understand how specific teaching strategies and large-scale interventions influence women and underrepresented minority students in STEM. I additionally have a large (still unpublished) dataset on interactions during seminar Q&A sessions (both before and after a policy change).

Selected Publications:
Ballen, CJ, SM Aguillon, R Brunelli, AG Drake, D Wassenberg, SL Weiss, KR Zamudio, S Cotner. 2018. Do small classes in higher education reduce performance gaps in STEM? BioScience 68(8): 593-600. [link, PDF]

Ballen, CJ, SM Aguillon, A Awwad, AE Bjune, D Challou, AG Drake, M Driessen, A Ellozy, VE Ferry, EE Goldberg, W Harcombe, S Jensen, C Jørgensen, Z Koth, S McGaugh, C Mitry, B Mosher, H Mostafa, RH Petipas, PAG Soneral, S Watters, D Wassenberg, SL Weiss, A Yonas, KR Zamudio, S Cotner. 2019. Smaller classes promote equitable student participation in STEM. BioScience 69(8): 669-680. [link, PDF]

Aguillon, SM*, G-F Siegmund*, RH Petipas, AG Drake, S Cotner, CJ Ballen. 2020. Gender differences in student participation in an active-learning classroom. CBE—Life Sciences Education 19(2): ar12. [link, PDF] (*equal contribution)

Diversity Preview Weekend (DPW)

Cornell graduate students in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB), Entomology (ENTO), and the School of Integrative Plant Science (SIPS) began co-organizing an annual event in 2017 to bring first-gen and underrepresented minority students to Cornell before they apply to graduate school. Attendees participated in various workshops, networked with faculty and students, and learned about the application process. 

I was heavily involved in this program as a graduate student and was a primary organizer in 2018 when we greatly expanded the program. I’m so proud to see that DPW has directly and indirectly influenced the creation of similar programs in other EEB departments (e.g., Princeton EEB Scholars Program, Stanford Biology Preview Program, UC Davis E&E Grad Preview)!

In 2021 the Cornell Deans voted to institutionalize the DPW across all fields at the university—meeting our goal from the beginning!