Letter to PREP@UCD

— Dan Starr and Carole Hom

On 1 June, we sent this letter to PREP@UCD faculty and scholars.

Dear Colleagues and Scholars,

Several years ago, I (Dan) experienced what I characterize as a “mid-career crisis”. I am the very definition of privileged. I am a white, straight, male who grew up in suburbia with educated parents. I never had to worry where my next meal would come from and I never experienced racism or sexism. My mid-career crisis involved admitting and accepting that I am a successful academic and scientist, in large part, thanks to my privilege. I therefore decided to dedicate substantial effort in the second half of my career to help provide some small amount of privilege to young scientists who often lack the background and support to attend graduate school.

That led to working with Carole Hom to write an NIH proposal to create PREP@UCD. Working with the scholars, watching them grow and blossom under your mentorship, and celebrating their successes have been a highlight of our careers.

For the past week, Carole and I have watched news clips and social media with growing anger and heartache. If they’ve had this effect on us, we cannot imagine what our black students and colleagues have felt.

As Americans, we need to effect change in our culture. Carole and I will continue to work towards this. If you’ve already been doing this your entire life: thank you for what you have done. Know that we will be alongside you. To faculty members: if you’ve not yet discussed this in your lab meeting or classes, we ask that you take the time to do this. Our students and scholars need to hear from us. To the scholars: please help us continue to grow. Please persist. But most of all, please take care of yourselves. We need you in science and in the academy.

And as always, we’re available if you need to talk.

Dan and Carole

Mural by Cadex Hererra, Xena Goldman, and Greta McClain. Photo by Xena Goldman, originally posted at President Obama’s statement