Diversity in STEM

I am strongly interested in promoting and encouraging diversity and inclusion in STEM, and particularly 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.

Diversity Preview Weekend (DPW)

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

Visit www.inclusivecornell.org for more details on the program. I am one of the lead organizers of the program and would be happy to answer questions about the program (from potential attendees or those interested in hosting a similar event)!

Readings on Diversity in Science

I am 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!

Readings on Diversity in Science


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 focus on how specific teaching strategies and large-scale interventions influence women and underrepresented minority students in STEM.

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)