Diversity & Inclusion

June 3, 2020

Dear SIPS Community,

Like many of you, I have been following recent events in our nation. I stand with the Black community during this difficult time. I personally have felt anger, sadness, and helplessness as the racial injustice we continue to witness has made many feel unsafe, stressed and traumatized.

I, along with the Executive Committee, and the Directors of Graduate Studies of the School of Integrative Plant Science at Cornell stand in solidarity against all forms of racism. We condemn acts of violence and hate and commit to keeping our community safe and welcoming to all. We chose not to simply write a statement denouncing racism that will change nothing. Our community deserves better. We have a responsibility to effect change, oppose racism, and support social justice. We have challenged ourselves, as leaders of the School of Integrative Plant Science, to seed a culture of change. We have committed to the following actions:

  • Work with SACNAS and MANRRS chapters to provide summer internships in plant science
  • Follow up on the Diversity Audit conducted in 2017 to host listening tours with graduate students, faculty, staff and postdocs to identify barriers and remove them for a more diverse faculty, staff, and student body
  • Continue funding of the Diversity Preview Weekend
  • Host SIPS events, talks, training, community discussions around social justice
  • Partner with Cornell AgriTech leadership to enhance diversity workshops and community discussions in Geneva
  • Challenge each executive committee member to lead an activity surrounding social justice, anti-racism, diversity, and inclusion. We have devoted the July Executive Committee meeting to this discussion.
  • Ensure that all members of SIPS know that diversity, inclusion, belonging, equity, and social justice are priorities for the School.

We urge each of you to take this time to reflect on racial injustice. Bring your ideas and passion and work with us to enable change. The resources below may be useful.


SIPS Executive Committee

  • Chris Smart – Director
  • Hale Tufan – Chair Diversity & Inclusion
  • Magdalen Lindeberg – Assistant Director
  • Toni DiTommaso – Chair Soil & Crop Sciences
  • Jeff Doyle – Chair Plant Breeding & Genetics
  • Steve Reiners – Chair Horticulture
  • Gillian Turgeon – Plant Pathology & Plant Microbe Biology
  • Klaas van Wijk – Chair Plant Biology
  • Mike Gore – incoming Chair Plant Breeding & Genetics
  • Joss Rose – incoming Chair Plant Biology
  • Susan Hoskins – Co-Chair Extension
  • Jenny Kao-Kniffin – Co-Chair Extension
  • Marvin Pritts – Director of Undergraduate Studies
  • Cindy Twardokus – Assistant to the Director
  • Andy Vail – Senior Administrative Director

SIPS Council of Directors of Graduate Studies

  • Michael Scanlon – Plant Biology (Chair) and member of EC
  • Thomas Bjorkman – Horticulture
  • Adam Bogdanove – Plant Pathology & Plant-Microbe Biology
  • Michael Mazourek – Plant Breeding & Genetics
  • Olena Vatamaniuk – Soil & Crop Sciences

Cornell and Community Resources:

Tompkins County:

Resources on allyship:

Books about Race:

Since 2000, Cornell University has had a program to track bias that is occurring on all campuses in an effort to be proactive in creating an inclusive climate for all. The Department of Inclusion and Workforce Diversity is responsible for collecting and tracking all reported bias activity that occurs at Cornell University that could potentially impact our commitment to diversity and inclusion, including all reports made by faculty, staff, students, and visitors to the Ithaca, Weill Cornell Medicine, and Cornell Tech campuses. If you have seen, heard, or experienced bias, you can make a report here:

Bias Incident Form

Cornell University is a place where intercultural skills are developed and used everywhere:  throughout our diverse campus groups, with our community partners, within our classrooms and in our workplaces.  At Cornell, we recognize people with diverse backgrounds and experiences bring great value to education, discovery, creativity, and engagement which is reflected in our long history of diversity and inclusion.

Here in the School of Integrative Plant Science, we take pride in the ways in which our land grant mission calls us to address the needs of diverse stakeholders as well as our long tradition of international engagement. However, we are continuing to actively work at identifying barriers faced by underrepresented groups among faculty, staff, and students. Our goal is to insure that SIPS provides a welcoming environment where individuals can bring their diverse backgrounds and experiences to our collective task of finding science-based solutions to the world's challenges. See SIPS diversity data - Fall 2017. See also: Cornell diversity dashboard.

For more insights on the benefits of a diverse working environment, read Katherine Phillips' article in Scientific American, How Diversity Makes Us Smarter.

Resources at Cornell

Readings/resources - diversity & inclusion in science, nature, and agriculture

Outreach activities at SIPS directed at enhanced diversity and inclusion in our community

  • SIPS Chair of Diversity & Inclusion - May 2020: Hale Tufan was welcomed as SIPS Chair of Diversity and Inclusion. In addition to serving on the SIPS Executive Committee she also serves on the CALS Committee for Diversity & Inclusion.
  • Diversity Audit: 2017-2018 SIPS contracted with Gender at Work to conduct a gender/diversity audit to identify barriers to enhancing diversity in SIPS.
  • Diversity Preview Weekend: introduces underrepresented minorities to our research programs the year before they apply to graduate school (News coverage: 2018, 2019)
  • 2021 SIPS Annual Report: See the Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion section and appendix of the Annual Report for a list of activities by SIPS members
  • Plant science outreach in the public schools: graduate students teach science to the elementary grades in Ithaca, Geneva, New York City
  • Expanding your Horizons: graduate students, faculty and staff present lead workshops for girls in grades 7-9 (2020, 2017, 2016)
  • Summer Research Scholars Program: providing undergraduate interns with the opportunity to work with faculty, graduate students, postdocs, and staff on laboratory or field-based research projects