Princeton’s Office of the Dean for Research is dedicated to fostering greater diversity and broader participation in research, innovation and entrepreneurship within the University and with academic institutions beyond Princeton.
To address these goals, the Office of the Dean for Research created this diversity, equity and inclusion action plan, which launched in academic year 2021-22.
The new initiatives provide opportunities for individuals from backgrounds that are underrepresented in research to conduct collaborative projects of mutual interest with Princeton faculty, grow mentoring networks, and build entrepreneurial skills to transform discoveries into technologies that benefit society.
The programs come in response to Princeton President Christopher L. Eisgruber’s charge in June 2020 to senior academic and administrative leaders to develop plans to combat systemic racism.
The initiatives bridge internal and external research communities through programs that provide opportunities in research, innovation and entrepreneurship for historically underrepresented groups, both at the University and in the United States more broadly.
The three initiatives are:
I. Research collaborations with minority-serving institutions
Bringing together faculty-led research at Princeton and researchers at minority-serving institutions, a new program will foster and fund research and innovation collaborations in the sciences, engineering, humanities and social sciences. The new program will address the issue of equitable funding in research while training greater numbers of researchers and catalyzing discoveries that can benefit humanity.
The program will offer opportunities for students at both institutions to engage with new faculty members, organize symposia, participate in innovation activities, and develop new skills.
II. Mentorship through a distinguished lecture series
A new distinguished lecture series featuring prominent underrepresented voices in research will offer opportunities for Princeton graduate students and postdoctoral researchers to build networks and gain mentoring opportunities. The Amplifying Voices Distinguished Lecture Series will bring inspirational figures in research, innovation or entrepreneurship to campus to deliver a public lecture. The series will offer mentorship and socialization opportunities for graduate students and postdoctoral researchers, including with those whose backgrounds have been traditionally underrepresented in research, innovation or entrepreneurship.
The lectureship series aims to improve experiences for all graduate students and researchers, including those of underrepresented backgrounds, by enhancing the welcoming nature of the institutional campus climate and providing quality mentoring experiences. Speakers will be chosen by the graduate students and postdoctoral researchers in each academic division.
III. Inclusive innovation and entrepreneurship
The third initiative aims to boost representation of historically underrepresented groups in entrepreneurship to accelerate technology development and help reduce the wealth and opportunity gaps in American society. The creation of the Inclusive Entrepreneurship at Princeton initiative is an opportunity for Princeton to make a significant contribution to an entrepreneurship ecosystem that embraces talented scholars and entrepreneurs of all backgrounds.
This fall, two new programs in Inclusive Entrepreneurship will launch:
EMPOWER: An annual conference celebrating underrepresented minorities in entrepreneurship
This annual conference series will bring together national thought-leaders in entrepreneurship to discuss and share practices that propel greater inclusion in the creation of new companies bringing emerging technologies to market for societal and economic progress. The conference is one way in which the University can help bridge the sources of inequity that suppress participation in entrepreneurship, bringing communities together to promote exchange of ideas.
The inaugural conference, Empower 2021, held Sept. 23-24, celebrated Black entrepreneurs from throughout academia. The event convened national thought-leaders to share knowledge across the stages of university startups and provide networking opportunities with fellow founders and investors. The conference included a pitch competition featuring some of the nation’s best academic spinouts.
This new fellowship and accelerator program will fund and support entrepreneurial investigators from across all academic disciplines to translate University research into impactful new ventures. START entrepreneurs will spend the first 12 months on campus working with a Princeton University faculty member engaged in translational research. The entrepreneurs will then spend the next 18 months at the Princeton Innovation Center BioLabs where they will work full time as the founder of a new startup or non-profit organization. Throughout the program, founders will be supported by entrepreneurship education, mentorship and funding from Princeton University.
The START program encourages applications from individuals who will contribute to the University’s diversity, broadly defined, including members of backgrounds underrepresented in academic entrepreneurship.