Thinking Fast Makes Changing S l o w: How Cognitive Processes Interfere with Achieving Diversity

Sponsored by WISE Ventures, Office of the Vice Provost for Graduate Education and Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Development and Diversity


Monday, February 27, 2017
12:00 pm – 1:30 pm
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102-103 Physics
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This event is open to:
Faculty/Staff, Students, Members


Event Details:

American research, and educational institutions and industries have encountered difficulties in attracting and retaining individuals from under-represented groups. This is particularly true in STEM disciplines, despite decades of well-meaning efforts by government, universities, and employers. Why is this? One possible factor may be mental processes that underlie human decision making. Psychologists and other social scientists have long recognized that humans make systematic errors in judgement. Hard-wired, simple, efficient rules that all humans use to make decisions (“thinking fast”) may lead to misjudgments about the capacity and potential of individuals from under-represented groups. Scientists in the “hard” sciences have been particularly resistant to the notion that the way humans make decisions can result in biases that lead to discrimination. Several real world examples demonstrate that academic institutions can make remarkable progress in recruiting members of under-represented groups as employees, students, or faculty when they recognize and compensate for the realities of how the human mind works.

Abbreviated Speaker Biography: Lydia Villa-Komaroff, Ph.D., is a molecular biologist, an executive, and a diversity advocate. She is a board member, and former CEO and CSO, of Cytonome/ST, LLC, a company developing and manufacturing purpose-built cell sorters. She currently serves on the boards of the Massachusetts Life Science Center (Gubernatorial appointment), ATCC, an independent, private, nonprofit biological resource center and research organization, the Keck Graduate Institute, and the Boston-based Biomedical Careers Program. 

Dr. Villa-Komaroff was a faculty member at University of Massachusetts Medical Center, Children's Hospital, Boston, and Harvard Medical School, Vice President for Research at Northwestern University, and Vice President for Research and Chief Operating Officer of the Whitehead Institute (Cambridge, MA). 

She earned her BA from Goucher College and her Ph.D. in Cell Biology from MIT, and as a postdoc was lead author of a paper reporting the first synthesis of mammalian insulin in bacterial cells. During her career as a bench scientist, she focused on using the methods of recombinant DNA to address a number of fundamental questions in different fields in collaboration with neurologists, developmental biologists, endocrinologists, and cell biologists. Research contributions of these teams include studies of the insulin-like growth factors in developing tissues, the role of peptide sequence of the proinsulin c-peptide in insulin secretion, the connection between sensory experience and gene expression during the development of the visual cortex, and the first demonstration of the toxicity of amyloid in neural cells. 

Stanford WISE Ventures, a joint initiative of the Vice Provost for Faculty Development & Diversity and the Vice Provost for Graduate Education, sponsors WISE Research Roundtables, featuring discussions with research scientists whose work illuminates paths to advance equity in scientific and technical fields.

This talk will be of particular interest to faculty and staff who recruit graduate students or faculty, and is also open to other interested Stanford affiliates. Lunch will be provided.

Admission Info

Limited seating; register by February 21.  

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