2019-2020 Inclusive Excellence Award Recipients

Program Overview

Peter Likins Student Inclusive Excellence Award

Maria is a fifth-year PhD student in Planetary Sciences. Her research focuses on the atmospheres of extrasolar planets. She simulates the climates of giant planets very close to their stars using supercomputers. She has been awarded the NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship to perform ground-breaking research, in addition to numerous other grants and awards throughout her time at UArizona. Maria has been coordinating the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory Women (LPL Women) group since her first year at UArizona, whose events are open to members of any gender identification. She organizes regular luncheon discussions on topics affecting women and other underrepresented groups in Planetary Science, STEM, and academia. Topics have included Native Americans in STEM fields and the inclusion of people with disabilities in STEM. Maria has worked to advance the breadth of LPL Women, by working to change the name and goals of the group to include trans individuals, non-binary people, and other gender minorities. She has also increased efforts to make the luncheons a safe space for all by encouraging participants to take Safe Zone Training and respect all voices in the group. She led a team of fellow graduate students to launch a new “Department Life” section of the LPL website, containing a collection of resources related to departmental climate, equity, inclusion, non-discrimination policies, groups that support underrepresented groups in planetary science, and how to report problems. For two years, Maria organized the annual Lunar and Planetary Lab Conference where she implemented Safe Zone guidelines which gave speakers and attendees the opportunity to provide pronouns and name pronunciation.


"Hi, my name is Maria Steinrueck and I am a fifth year graduate student in Planetary Sciences at the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory at the University of Arizona.

In my first year here, I heard from a couple other students that there used to be a women’s group with regular lunches in the department but that the person organizing the group had moved away about two years before I arrived and since then, nobody had taken up organizing these lunches. At the same time, I heard from several students that they missed these women’s lunches and that there still was a need for them. For context, Planetary Sciences is a fairly male-dominated field. Women make up only about 25% of people working in Planetary Science.

Because of the clear need, I started reviving these women’s lunches. At first, we just met up once a semester, had lunch together and talked about whatever came to our mind. There was lots of interest, from graduate students to postdocs to research and engineering staff and faculty. After the first lunches, I realized that the lunches lacked a bit of direction. So, we introduced a discussion theme for each lunch. I started out choosing topics that everyone could relate to, such as time management or mentoring. It worked really well, but I realized that I wanted our group to also talk about more difficult topics related to injustices and problems within our field. Women as a whole are the underrepresented group in my field that still gets the most visibility and attention and I wanted to make sure we do not stop at discussing the needs and problems of white women. Needless to say, planetary science is not just very male-dominated, it is also very white-dominated. To better address that, I reached out to other campus organizations to bring in guest speakers who are experts in topics related to social justice. Our first guest speaker was Dr. Toni Saia from the Disability Cultural Center to talk about Ableism in Higher Education and we’ve also hosted Karen Francis-Begay to talk about Native Americans in Higher Education.

Right now, that’s where we’re at. I plan to continue inviting guest speakers but in between we also have lunches where we just have an internal discussion because that’s important, too.

My current big project that I want to finish before I graduate is that I want to reorient our group such that it equally serves all genders that are underrepresented in Planetary Science, including non-binary folks and trans men in addition to cis and trans women. This will include renaming our group, but we have not settled on a new name yet, so stay tuned for that.

I would like to use this opportunity to thank the people who have inspired and supported me on this journey: First of all, I want to thank Sarah Ballard, who I met while doing undergraduate research at University of Washington. She was a postdoc in the same research group and she is the first person I came to know personally who was both a brilliant scientist and someone who was outspoken against sexism and other injustices within our field. She has inspired me a lot.

I also would like to thank Maggie Melo, Jennifer Nichols and Vicki Lazaro from the UA Women’s Hackathon for their leadership. I learned a lot about myself and about organizing and leadership during my time in the hackathon organizing team.

Thank you to Gurtina Besla for invaluable advice on how to balance research progress and social justice activism. Finally, I would also like to thank several of my friends and colleagues for the many helpful discussions we’ve had related to social justice, how to go about certain problems in the department, for tackling issues together and for overall supporting me: Sondy, Amanda, Cecilia, Ali, Margaret, Singleton, Hamish, Julia and Kristin."

Da’Mere Wilson is a Clinical Psychology doctoral student in the Department of Psychology. Prior to pursuing her doctorate, Da’Mere earned her B.A in Psychology from St. John’s University, where she worked as a research fellow in the Collaborative Health Integration Research Program (CHIRP) studying discrimination and health disparities. As a Ronald E. McNair Scholar, Da'Mere first came to the University of Arizona as part of the UROC Summer Research Institute in 2017. Da'Mere has been involved in activism and social justice movements since the beginning of the 2014 #BlackLivesMatter movement. As a graduate student, Da'Mere is a member of the Psychology Department's Diversity Committee and helped to form the department's Graduate Student Wellness Committee. Within these roles, she hopes to advocate for the continued advancement of women of color in psychology and to advocate for fair treatment of her fellow graduate students. Her research currently focuses on the interactions between social stress, grief, and health outcomes. Specifically, how experiences of discrimination, grief, and other stressors impact cardiovascular health within the African American community.  As a Graduate Student Mentor for the Arizona Science, Engineering and Math Scholars Program, she’s spoken on several graduate student panels at the University to provide advice on applying to graduate school. Da'Mere has also spoken to local low-income middle school students through the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) college readiness program. Additionally, she created an infographic that helps graduate students and faculty understand how to recruit undergraduate scholars of color into their laboratories.


Peter Likins Staff Inclusive Excellence Award

Jacy Farkas is the Training Director at the Sonoran University Center for Excellence in Disabilities (UCEDD). Sonoran UCEDD’s goal is to ensure full community participation by individuals with disabilities through interdisciplinary training, research, information dissemination, and the development of model programming to enhance and expand systems of support for people with disabilities. Ms. Farkas oversees the center's interdisciplinary pre-service preparation, continuing and community education programs. She also engages in community-based program development, research, and evaluation addressing the transition to adulthood for youth with disabilities, particularly those who experience and age out of foster care. Her interests lie in the intersection of disability and other historically marginalized populations, community inclusion and successful adult living, cultural and linguistic competency, and information accessibility. As Training Director, Ms. Farkas revised the syllabus for the core disabilities class to include the voices and perspectives of racial/ethnic and linguistic minorities with disabilities and their communities, increased the number of guest lecturers of color, and enhanced the course readings to include diverse perspectives. Many of her statewide disability projects involve UArizona students, thereby enhancing their knowledge about disability and diversity. For example, she is currently the principal investigator on a statewide needs assessment for transition-aged foster care youth. Ms. Farkas has also developed a collaborative partnership with the Tucson Zoo focused on the inclusion of youth with disabilities in volunteer and camp activities. Ms. Farkas is currently a doctoral candidate in Family Studies and Human Development at the Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences.


Peter Likins Program Inclusive Excellence Award

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Top row: Cesar Egurrola, Brett DePiñeda, Sarah Yates, Alyssa Guido, Krystal Fimbres. Middle row: Kristen Ellis, Andrea Verdin, Larry York, Connie Chan, Ruth Hillman. Bottom row: Britt Nigon, Michael Castaneda, Sascha Bianchi, Jai Smith, Joanne Wolf.

University of Arizona’s Petersen HIV Clinics (PHC) provide HIV treatment and prevention services for over 1,000 patients in southern Arizona. Through a multi-disciplinary team approach, all patients receive high-quality medical care, medications, and support services.  In addition to care coordination, PHC staff are skilled in navigating medical systems, insurance plans, and financial programs which assist with the cost of medical care for patients in need. Staff are comprised of highly qualified professionals from diverse personal and professional backgrounds reflective of the population served by the clinic. PHC serve people from all socioeconomic backgrounds including men, women, and transgendered individuals. The clinic endeavors to provide culturally sensitive services that prioritize vulnerable populations such as racial and ethnic minorities, refugees, LGBTQ communities, and those with behavioral health challenges. Efforts to increase access to inclusive services for all clients include thoughtfulness around patient experiences such as considerations for bus routes, medication co-pays, how questions are asked on patient forms, appointment scheduling, and more. PHC staff have been trained in trauma-informed care practices and seek out educational opportunities and patient feedback as much as possible. PHC is part of the Division of Infectious Diseases and is primarily funded by the Health and Resources Services Administration (HRSA) HIV/AIDS Bureau Ryan White Program Parts B and C.

The Pacific AIDS Education and Training Center (PAETC) – Arizona provides HIV training and capacity building to health care professionals throughout the state of Arizona. PAETC Arizona prioritizes health care organizations that serve minority and vulnerable populations such as Federally Qualified Health Centers, Indian Health Service sites, and health care professionals along the U.S. -Mexico border. PAETC Arizona works to address disparities in HIV infections through increased access to high-quality HIV prevention and care services. In addition to clinical training, PAETC Arizona offers training curricula that mindfully prepare the workforce for the diversity of sexual orientations, gender identities, and sexual behaviors seen in patient populations with the long-term goal of creating safer spaces for all to access non-judgmental and compassionate care. In all training and capacity building activities, the PAETC Arizona aims to engage community partners who represent the communities being served. For example, a trans-identified patient navigator serves on the planning committee for the trans health clinical preceptorships; partners from Sonora Mexico help to plan border health events; and community health workers (CHWs) from across the state have been involved in planning trainings with CHWs working primarily with native and border health communities. PAETC Arizona is part of the Division of Infectious Diseases and is funded by the Health and Resources Services Administration (HRSA) HIV/AIDS Bureau Ryan White Program Part F.

Richard Ruiz Diversity Leadership Faculty Award

Dr. Duarte Diaz joined the University of Arizona School of Animal and Comparative Biomedical Sciences (ACBS) faculty as an Associate Professor and Extension Specialist in 2015. Dr. Diaz holds a M.S. and a Ph.D. in nutrition and toxicology from North Carolina State University. As the dairy extension specialist, Dr. Diaz provides relevant and current extension programs to the dairy producers of Arizona. This includes educational activities that are broad-based in nature, but specifically impact decision-making ability at the farm level. It also includes research and graduate programs that help answer relevant questions in the industry. He developed an Extension program entitled Arizona Dairy Farm Training which trains Arizona dairy farm employees, 95% of whom are Hispanic, in their native language. His efforts to address the safety and training of the Hispanic workforce in Arizona dairies carries out UArizona’s efforts to improve diversity and inclusiveness beyond campus boundaries and into the communities our Land Grant mission requires we serve. Dr. Diaz continues to expand his extension programs in labor education and is currently developing a multi-national agreement to do in-country trainings and service to meet the extensive needs of the dairy industry in Arizona, Idaho, and Mexico. This program has the potential to transform and/or redefine agricultural immigration regarding the much-needed labor force. Dr. Diaz has also contributed to a more inclusive campus by helping non-native English-speaking graduate students achieve their academic goals. He understands that many underrepresented students lack confidence in their own ability to succeed and often need just one person to express belief in them and provide mentoring and support. Furthermore, Dr. Diaz is contributing to a collective effort to expand the existing UArizona extension personnel who are “BQA Certified Trainers” around the state. In the last year, the diversity of trainers has significantly increased in number, now including the majority of the Federally Recognized Tribal Extension Program tribal agents and several new county agents who are women. Dr. Diaz has given over 50 invited presentations around the world and has published over 70 articles in scientific journals, proceedings and popular press magazines. In 2005, Dr. Diaz served as editor of a publication that focused on the applied impact of mycotoxins on agriculture titled “The Mycotoxin Blue Book” (Notthingham University Press). The book has been translated to Spanish, Russian and Chinese. It is considered an important reference on the subject.