Briana Davis is the Recipient of the DMC Diversity Matters Award

The Duke Microbiome Center (DMC) leadership team is happy to announce that recipient of the 2022 DMC Diversity Matters Award is Briana (Bri) Davis. The DMC is committed to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion as fundamental to our center’s success and excellence (read more here). Our ability to achieve these ends relies on the initiative, leadership, and engagement of our center members. Launched in 2020, the annual Diversity Matters Award is designed to recognize individuals within the DMC that have made significant advances towards these ends within Duke and our broader scientific and geographic communities. We are very happy to recognize Briana as the recipient of this year’s DMC Diversity Matters Award for their contributions described below.

Briana Davis’ receipt of the DMC Diversity Matters Award recognizes the vision, leadership, and generosity she has displayed in developing and implementing a new professional development program called Science Career Investigation and Professionalism Training (SCRIPT). Briana is a Ph.D. candidate in the Molecular Genetics and Microbiology Program at Duke University in the lab of Dr. John Rawls, and she is also an alumna of North Carolina Central University (NCCU), a historically black university. Briana perceived herself as uniquely positioned to build collaborative connections between these two institutions. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Briana made the choice to create community, to turn outward, and to build bridges for others, specifically within the NCCU and Duke communities in Durham. Towards the explicit goal of increasing diversity in STEM professions, Briana discerned a need to increase opportunities to increase awareness among under-represented minority college students about different scientific careers, and thereby increase the chances of them accessing and pursuing those career paths. Briana first organized discussions with key stakeholders from NCCU and Duke, including leadership from the Duke BioCoRE Program and IDEALS Office. Those conversations informed the design of a summer program aimed to (1) increase exposure of NCCU undergraduate students to scientific careers, and (2) increase mentorship opportunities for NCCU undergraduates. The inaugural SCRIPT program was hosted during summer 2021 and consisted of four major training workshops for students, with the first three sessions dividing their time between a professional development workshop led by NCCU and Duke faculty on skills relevant to scientific careers, followed by panels featuring guests representing different STEM career paths. The final session was an opportunity to network with all previous career panelists about their experience, with the addition of new featured guests as well. As a leader on this initiative, Briana recognized that building mutual respect and trust among partners required team efforts at both universities to recognize their respective traditions. Receiving critical feedback from faculty and students was essential to guide the core components of the SCRIPT program including the selection of STEM career topics and invited guest speakers. Briana’s experience shows us that leading and fostering meaningful relationships with others is not only about bringing your ideas to the table, but also a willingness to adapt those ideas to uplift the common goal. For her vision, leadership, and generosity bringing the SCRIPT program to Duke and NCCU, Briana Davis is a deserving recipient of this 2022 DMC Diversity Matters Award.

The next nomination cycle for the DMC Diversity Matters Award will be announced in fall 2022. For further details on this award mechanism, go here.

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