Penn INSPIRE guides scientists and physicians to the forefront of academia

Historically, Black/African Americans, Hispanic/Latinxs, and Native Americans have been and remain consistently underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), and the number of scientists from URM backgrounds hired as faculty in medical school basic science departments is nowhere near the actual number of potential candidates.

Jose S. Campos (left), Alejandra Fausto, and Jorge (Jay) Ortiz-Carpena (right).
Penn INSPIRE co-directors Jose S. Campos (left), Alejandra Fausto, and Jorge (Jay) Ortiz-Carpena (right). (Image: Penn Medicine News)

Ph.D. candidates Jorge (Jay) Ortiz-Carpena, Jose S. Campos, and Alejandra Fausto shared a passion for supporting underrepresented minority (URM) scientists, and drive to address the challenges students face in working towards career opportunities in academia.

In order to provide a voice for other URM scientists and offer support, they began planning to create a group that would be a trainee-led coalition advocating for scientists and physicians historically marginalized and excluded in STEM across all degree and professional levels.

“We did not want to ask for a seat at the table. We wanted to break the mold and create our own table, where everyone would have a seat,” Ortiz-Carpena says.

In October 2020, Ortiz-Carpena founded the Penn Interdisciplinary Network for Scientists Promoting Inclusion, Retention, and Equity (Penn INSPIRE) with Campos and Fausto joining as co-directors. The group’s main areas of focus are to create inclusive platforms and advocate for and implement initiatives to empower individuals with diverse ethnicities, backgrounds, gender identities, and sexual orientations—those at the margins of academia.

This story is by Karen Malecki. Read more at Penn Medicine News.