New Committee Will Guide ASM’s Diversity and Inclusion Strategy

Feb. 14, 2022

Washington, D.C. – February 14, 2022 – The American Society for Microbiology is pleased to introduce the newly appointed members of ASM’s inaugural IDEAA Committee of the Board, a leadership body approved by the Board in March 2021, based on recommendations of the DEI Taskforce. ASM is committed to promoting and advancing the microbial sciences through the elevation, embodiment and sustainability of inclusive diversity with equity, access and accountability (IDEAA). IDEAA prioritizes a high-level, integrated, organization-wide approach that ensures all ASM operations align with the mission of furthering the microbial sciences. The IDEAA Committee guides the strategic direction of the Society on DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) issues, recommending to the CEO and the Board of Directors the most optimal structure and coordination for DEI activities to ensure maximum impact.

“In 2018, I asked the Board of ASM to explore how we could further elevate DEI in the Society to better serve the microbial sciences. I could not be prouder of all that this excellent team of volunteers and staff has accomplished," said Stefano Bertuzzi, ASM’s CEO. "The large number of applicants that we received in response to our open call to populate the IDEAA Committee is very encouraging. I wish the Committee members all the best as they continue to do excellent and impactful work, and I am here to support them.”

ASM released an open call for applicants in Oct. 2021 and received 50 applications from interested ASM members in 18 U.S. states, 13 countries and 3 continents. Applicants represented a range of cultures and professional backgrounds. The ASM Appointments Committee thoroughly reviewed all of the applications, using detailed competency, skill and behavioral criteria developed by a prominent global organizational consulting firm.

ASM’s IDEAA Committee will be chaired by Dr. Greetchen Díaz, the Director of the Science Education Program and Community Partnerships of Ciencia Puerto Rico (CienciaPR). Díaz is also the founder and coordinator of CienciaPR’s "Borinqueña," the bilingual blog for Hispanic and Puerto Rican Women in science and technology.

Five additional members will sit on the Committee:

  • Dr. Catherine Eze is a researcher in public health and microbiology at the Federal University of Technology, in Owerri, Nigeria and an environmentalist, with more than 15 years of experience in a wide array of laboratory and field techniques. Eze’s research focuses on examining the influence of the environment on human health.  

  • Dr. Dioscaris Garcia is an assistant professor of orthopedics research and co-director of the Diane N. Weiss Center for Orthopedic Trauma Research at Brown University. Garcia is an experienced pharmacologist and microbiologist specializing in cell signaling and infectious diseases.  

  • Dr. Joel Oppenheim is a professor emeritus and diversity advisor to the Office of Science Research at New York University (NYU) School of Medicine. Oppenheim also serves on the NYU School of Medicine’s M.D. and M.D./Ph.D. Admissions Committees.  

  • Dr. Margaret Powers-Fletcher is an assistant professor in the Internal Medicine, Infectious Diseases Division at the University of Cincinnati. She is a clinical microbiologist with a passion for enhancing the accessibility and appreciation of science in the community.  

  • Dr. Rachel Roper is a professor in East Carolina University’s Department of Microbiology and Immunology. Roper and her lab are studying viral genomics and pathogenesis as well as the effects of gender bias on women in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM)  

These new appointments mark the early success of ASM’s pilot efforts to diversify ASM’s leadership through the Society’s appointment and nomination processes and will begin their terms on July 1, 2022.  

“We appreciate and thank the ASM members and volunteers who worked tirelessly to ensure DEI was at the core of ASM’s efforts to advance the microbial sciences. As we continue to move forward in making the microbial sciences one of the most diverse and inclusive fields in STEM, it would be remiss to not also spotlight and recognize the work that came before,” said Díaz, ASM’s IDEAA Committee chair.  

Drs. Julie Segre and Vic DiRita, ASM board members, also served on the interim IDEAA Committee since 2021.  

Over the last year, a collaborative effort between the interim IDEAA Committee members and a cross-organizational IDEAA staff group worked to develop an IDEAA strategy based on recommendations in the 2020 Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Taskforce Report. The strategy identifies key priorities that will steer ASM's DEI efforts into the future. A high-level overview of these priorities are listed here, and the complete list can be downloaded below:  

  • Ensure transparency, inclusion and accessibility around ASM's governance processes, such as ASM’s committees, by posting committee positions on and holding open calls for applications.  

  • Diversify ASM’s leadership by piloting a new process for the organization’s appointment and nomination process.  

  • Raise awareness and enhance the visibility and access to accessibility-related accommodations at ASM Microbe and other ASM meetings.  

  • Enhance data quality around the characteristics and identities of ASM members. Building on the efforts initiated in 2021, ASM will continue to capture race, gender and other demographics more effectively, measure our progress and adjust our efforts as needed.     

  • Empower and support senior undergraduate and graduate students from historically underrepresented groups through a year-round structured mentoring fellowship program. Identify and pursue opportunities to support and train postdoctoral researchers from historically underrepresented groups in the biomedical sciences to become future undergraduate and graduate-level faculty.  

  • Gather quantitative and qualitative data on the impact of systemic barriers and gaps within the microbial sciences field and characterize such barriers/gaps. Identify ways to address and demolish the systemic barriers/gaps in the microbial sciences field.  

  • Develop educational and informative online resources related to DEI. Increase members’ access to communicate with and provide feedback to ASM staff and volunteer leadership.  ​

Members will have the opportunity to meet ASM’s IDEAA Committee at the IDEAA Town Hall on Thursday, June 9th at ASM Microbe 2022 in Washington, D.C. 


The American Society for Microbiology is one of the largest professional societies dedicated to the life sciences and is composed of 30,000 scientists and health practitioners. ASM's mission is to promote and advance the microbial sciences.
ASM advances the microbial sciences through conferences, publications, certifications and educational opportunities. It enhances laboratory capacity around the globe through training and resources. It provides a network for scientists in academia, industry and clinical settings. Additionally, ASM promotes a deeper understanding of the microbial sciences to diverse audiences. 

Author: ASM Communications

ASM Communications
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