Diversity and Inclusion

The Department of Neuroscience at Hopkins is committed to advancing diversity and inclusion in neuroscience at all levels.

We recognize the need for diligent, continuous efforts to create and support a diverse community of neuroscientists in order to generate the most creative and innovative science.

More than a decade ago, the department instituted a Chair of Diversity and Cultural Competency, a faculty member who spearheaded efforts to encourage people of diverse backgrounds to come to Hopkins for graduate school, postdoctoral fellowships, staff and faculty positions. These initial efforts have evolved and grown. Today, Hopkins Neuroscience hosts two engaged committees, the Department of Neuroscience Committee on Diversity and Inclusion (CDI) and the Student Diversity Committee (SDC). The CDI consists of faculty members, postdoctoral fellows and graduate students and meets approximately every two months to plan and coordinate various initiatives. The SDC, which consists entirely of graduate students, was founded in 2017 to organize the large number of students committed to diversity. The SDC works jointly with the CDI as well as independently on its own initiatives, all with the common goal of improving diversity in Hopkins Neuroscience as well as in the broader scientific community. The committees also coordinate outreach efforts to the broader community around Baltimore and to area schools.

We believe that the most creative communities include representatives from a broad range of perspectives who actively support and learn from one another. We strive to tackle challenges faced by groups such as underrepresented races and ethnicities in science, LGBTQ+ individuals, persons from low socioeconomic status, persons with disabilities, women, immigrants, and international students, among others. We welcome you to join our program and further our commitment to a diverse and inclusive community.

Neuroscience Department Statement Against Systemic Racism (July 2020)

We in the Department of Neuroscience are horrified and deeply saddened by recent events that highlight the longstanding racism entrenched in our society. Shocking episodes of racial violence across the nation have galvanized efforts to root out the systemic biases that enable these atrocities to recur. We strongly support these goals.

There is no excuse for indifference or complacency in the face of the injustices that threaten the safety of Black members of our community and persistently limit opportunities for people of color in our society. Therefore, we commit ourselves to eradicating the pervasive impact of racism and inequality in our Department, University, and Community.

As a Department, our core missions of discovery and teaching will not flourish without the dedicated action and commitment of each and every one of us to maintain a fully inclusive and supportive environment in which every member of our community can fully thrive. We are actively engaging all members of our Department in identifying and eliminating barriers to achieving this goal through town halls and working groups. Central areas of focus include education and training to address implicit and explicit bias, promoting sustained community and inclusion, and recruitment and support of graduate students, fellows, and faculty from diverse backgrounds, crucial to realizing the best science. In recent years, we have made progress in increasing matriculation of graduate students from under-represented minorities. We plan to build on this initial success by enhancing the diversity of our faculty. Milestones will be monitored by our Committee on Diversity and Inclusion, which represents trainees and faculty, and provides a forum for ongoing dialogue on these critical issues.

By working together with other Departmental partners, we will advocate for the University to fulfill its core mission of “diversity and inclusion”. Specifically, we will seek allocation of resources to minimize the impact of the pandemic on low-income University employees and to underwrite diversity recruitment and inclusion efforts.

Through outreach to our Community, we can help catalyze further the changes necessary to combat endemic racism and heal our society. To this end, we encourage all members of our Department to donate to organizations devoted to fighting racial injustice. Furthermore, we will continue to promote science education in our Community, provide training opportunities in our laboratories for under-represented minority students, and pursue academic and professional exchange opportunities with under-represented minority faculty and partners from institutions dedicated to preparing diverse scholars for biomedical careers.

As these societal issues have festered for generations, we understand that implementing change will require sustained efforts and unwavering focus. We are committed to working together as a Department to face these immense challenges head on for as long as it takes to succeed.

  • Rick Huganir – Director
  • Dwight Bergles – Vice Chair of Research
  • Shan Sockanathan – Vice Chair of Faculty
  • Jim Knierim – Vice Chair of Education
  • Jay Baraban – Co-Chair of the Committee on Diversity and Inclusion
  • Solange Brown – Co-Chair of the Committee on Diversity and Inclusion

Neuroscience Department Outreach:


Neuroscience Department Diversity Initiatives:

SIP ○ PREP ○ DDP ○ JHNSP ○ JHIBS ○ Second Look ○ Conference Outreach ○ Graduate Advisor ○ URM Panel ○ Cientifico ○ Recruitment Seminars ○ Other Diversity Efforts

Summer Internship Program (SIP)

SIP supports students from underrepresented racial and economic backgrounds and students with disabilities to conduct research in laboratories at Johns Hopkins as part of an immersive 10-week program. The Department of Neuroscience and the Kavli Neuroscience Discovery Institute support these summer internships for undergraduate students considering graduate studies in neuroscience and related areas. NeuroSIP students intern in laboratories of primary faculty members in the Department of Neuroscience; Kavli SIP students intern in laboratories of Kavli NDI faculty. SIP students are guided by faculty mentors in independent research projects and present their work at a poster session at the end of the summer as part of an institution-wide symposium. The projects that SIP students take on are an opportunity to learn about the research process and give students a sense of ownership of their original work. Many go on to present their summer research at national conferences such as ABRCMS, SACNAS, and LANS, among others.

The Department of Neuroscience also invests in the career training and professional development of undergraduate mentees. SIP students are assigned individual graduate student mentors to advise them on navigating academic environments and applying for graduate and professional school. In addition, all undergraduate researchers in labs affiliated with the Department of Neuroscience are invited to weekly summer lunches organized by members of the Committee on Diversity and Inclusion focused on issues such as giving scientific presentations, applying to graduate school and to fellowships, and career networking.

The application for both SIP programs can be found here. Additional programs also support undergraduate interns in the Department of Neuroscience.  Please look here for a partial list of such programs.  

Recent Neuroscience and Kavli SIP Alumni:

Mauricio Garcia, University of Colorado - Denver, Denver CO, Summer 2020
Faculty mentor: Hey-Kyoung Lee

Dalissa Negron-Figuero, University of Puerto Rico, Rio Pedras Campus, Summer 2020
Faculty mentor: Jeremiah Cohen

Laurianne Pene, Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant, MI, Summer 2020
Faculty mentor: Alex Koldokin

Beloved Adenuga, Howard University, Washington, DC, Summer 2019
Faculty mentor: Richard Huganir 
Project: Mapping the protein-protein interaction of BTBD11 and PSD-95 using the yeast two-hybrid system

Alex Maya-Romero, King’s College, Wilkes-Barre, PA, Summer 2019
Faculty mentor: Paul Worley 
Project: Homer1: a regulator of Rheb in upstream mTORC1 signaling

Jonathan Moran, University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus, Summer 2019
Faculty mentor: Solange Brown
Project: 3D relationships among axonal projections in the thalamus

Cailyn Robertson, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA, Summer 2019
Faculty mentor: Mohamad Farah
Project: Pharmacological inhibition of BACE1 in a mouse model of ALS

Matilde Castro, University of Texas at Austin, Summer 2018
Faculty mentor: Richard Huganir 
Project: Effects of CRMP2 deletion on hippocampal learning in a T-maze
Current Position: Neuroscience PhD student, Johns Hopkins

Post-baccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP)

PREP provides post-baccalaureate students from underrepresented groups or from disadvantaged backgrounds with the support to work full-time in a laboratory at Hopkins. PREP students spend one or two years strengthening their research background and increasing their competitiveness for PhD applications via exam preparation, scientific writing workshops, once-a-month chalk-talks, and “mini-thesis” meetings with their research mentors and the PREP director. Graduate students in our department also serve as peer mentors for students in the PREP program and help guide the students both in and out of the lab.

Current Neuroscience PREP students:

Nuri Smith
Neuroscience mentor: Keri Martinowich
Undergraduate: BS (Biology and Experimental Psychology) 2020, University of South Carolina: Upstate

Recent PREP alumni:

Kyndall Nicholas      
Neuroscience mentor: 
Keri Martinowich
Undergraduate: BS (Biochemistry) 2019, Hampton University, Virginia
Graduate: Neuroscience PhD student, University of Pennsylvania

Alexa Perez-Torres
Neuroscience mentor: Loyal Goff
Undergraduate: BS (Biology) 2019, University of Puerto Rico, Cayey       
Graduate: MCO PhD student, Harvard University

Gabriella Muwanga
Neuroscience mentor: Michael Caterina
Undergraduate: BS (Biomedical Sciences) 2018, Makerere University, Uganda
Graduate:  Neuroscience PhD student, Stanford University

Cera Hassinan
Neuroscience mentor: Charlotte Sumner
Undergraduate: BS (Neuroscience) 2017, Johns Hopkins University
Graduate: Molecular & Cellular Biology PhD student, University of Washington, Seattle

Kelly A. Fogelson
Neuroscience mentor: Kishore Kuchibhotla 
Undergraduate: BS (Neuroscience) 2017, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
Graduate: Biomedical Sciences PhD student, UC San Diego

Alejandra Patino
Neuroscience mentor: Gül Dölen
Undergraduate: BS (Neural Science) 2017, New York University
Graduate: MD/PhD student, Duke University School of Medicine

Caitlin Corona-Long
Neuroscience mentor: Michaela Gallagher 
Undergraduate: BS (Psychology) 2016, University of Oregon
Graduate: Psychological & Brain Sciences PhD student, Johns Hopkins University

Chelsy R. Eddings
Neuroscience mentor: Christopher Ross
Undergraduate: BA (Molecular & Cellular Biology; Neurobiology) 2016, University of California, Berkeley
Graduate: BCMB PhD student, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

Arena Manning
Neuroscience mentor: Barbara Slusher
Undergraduate: BA (Neuroscience) 2016, Skidmore College
Graduate: Neuroscience PhD student, University of Washington, Seattle

Jesús Acevedo-Cintrón
Neuroscience mentor: Ted Dawson 
Undergraduate: BS (Cell & Molecular Biology) 2015, University of Puerto Rico
Graduate: MD/PhD student at Washington University, St. Louis

Doctoral Diversity Program (DDP)

DDP is a post-baccalaureate program in the Initiative for Careers in Science and Medicine pipeline. Students from diverse or low-income backgrounds who are interested in pursuing an MD, PhD, MD/PhD or other biomedical research careers build their research skills and network for two years in the DDP. Students not only work in the laboratory, but also receive coursework in scientific writing as well as exam preparation and the opportunity for shadowing at the Hospital.  Additional information about the program can be found here.

Current Neuroscience DDP Student:

Megan Gimmen
Neuroscience mentor: Seth Blackshaw
Undergraduate: University of Guam

Recent Neuroscience DDP Alumni:

Mobolanle Adebesin
Neuroscience mentor: Seth Blackshaw
Undergraduate: University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Graduate: MD/PhD student, Vanderbilt

Johns Hopkins Neuroscience Scholars Program (JHNSP)

JHNSP is a multi-year program dedicated to mentoring underrepresented minority (URM) and deaf or hard-of-hearing (D/HH) undergraduates. It provides students with an in-depth exposure to neuroscience research as they prepare for a career path toward a PhD or MD/PhD in neuroscience. Participants attend professional development workshops, perform 10 weeks of intensive summer research, and network with other students. Throughout the academic year, scholars receive individualized advising. Additional information about the program can be found here. 

Ryleigh Board, Campbellsville University, Campbellsville, KY, Summer 2019
Neuroscience mentor: Juan Huang in the laboratory of Xiaoqin Wang
Project: Melanocytes and lipofuscin in the stria vascularis in juvenile and aged mice

Jennifer Hinton, Mississippi State University, Summer 2019 & Summer 2020
Neuroscience mentor: Dwight Bergles and Uli Mueller
Project: Various strategies with electroporation enhance pre-onset hearing cochlea transfection

Montrell Vass, Stevenson University, Pikesville, MD, Summer 2019
Neuroscience mentor: John Krakauer
Project: Level of response conflict influences action initiation but not preparation

Elias Wojahn, University of Minnesota, Summer 2019
Neuroscience mentor: Kathleen Cullen
Project: CIB2 protein mutations in mice

Johns Hopkins Internship in Brain Sciences Program (JHIBS)

The JHIBS program aims to increase the pool of qualified underrepresented professional candidates from Baltimore interested in neuroscience and mental health medicine through an eight-week summer research internship for high school juniors and seniors. The program provides the necessary exposure, knowledge, and career-long mentoring to help propel students toward a trajectory as a STEM professional. Additional information about the program can be found here. 

Accepted Students’ Second Look Visit

The Neuroscience Department co-hosts the Second Look/Accepted Applicant’s Visit for URM students accepted across Hopkins’ Graduate Biomedical Education Programs. The main goal of this event is to present what Johns Hopkins and Baltimore have to offer, discuss student life with current students, and continue networking with faculty and students in each applicant’s respective graduate program. Students from underrepresented/minority backgrounds that have been extended an offer to join the Neuroscience Graduate Program are invited to attend this event. 

Conference Outreach

Faculty and graduate student representatives attend SACNAS, ABRCMS and the BP-ENDURE Meeting at Society for Neuroscience to:

Graduate Life Advisor

In 2019, the Committee on Diversity and Inclusion named eight faculty members to the role of “Graduate Life Advisor,” a mentorship role designed to improve the breadth of graduate student mentorship. These faculty members nominated by students provide advice on everything graduate-school related beyond lab work - this can include navigating professional relationships, maintaining healthy work-life balance, and broader career strategies.

Meet our Graduate Life Advisors for 2021-2022:

URM Panel & Happy Hour

In May 2019, the Student Diversity Committee hosted an Underrepresented Minorities Panel and Happy Hour where professors and students shared their experiences and discussed their perspectives as minorities in science. Students and faculty then were able to casually chat afterwards. Future panels will address topics such as applying for job positions as an URM, creating more diverse workforces and environments, and implementing personal and institutional level initiatives to increase diversity. 

Meet the panelists:

  • Amanda Brown, Associate Professor, Department of Neurology
  • Yeka Aponte, Chief, Neuronal Circuits and Behavior Unit, National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) and Assistant Professor, Department of Neuroscience
  • Gregory Carr, Assistant Professor, Department of Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences and Lieber Institute

Cientifico Latino Application Preparation Initiative

Students from the Neuroscience Department partner with Cientifico Latino as consultants in their graduate school application preparation initiative. This program offers one-on-one guidance for graduate school applications of minority students, including revision to personal statements and CVs, mock interviews, advice on selecting programs and applying for fellowships and more.

Recruitment Seminars

Hopkins Neuro visit to the University of Puerto Rico

In August 2019, Dwight Bergles, Professor of Neuroscience and Director of the Kavli Neuroscience Discovery Institute offered the seminar “Oligodendrocyte dynamics in the adult CNS” to professors, graduate students and undergraduate students at the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus. Furthermore, students from the NIH BP-ENDURE Fellowship, MARC, RISE, and NeuroBoricuas had the opportunity to learn more about the PhD programs, post-bac programs and summer internships available at Johns Hopkins.

Other Diversity Efforts

In 2018, Hopkins Neuroscience sent two faculty representatives, the director of admissions and a faculty member of the Committee on Diversity and Inclusion, to a workshop on holistic admissions at the University of Maryland to learn and develop ways to reduce bias in our admissions process.

Workshops for first-year students are held twice a year with the Student Assistance Program for help with stress reduction, academic help, and general counseling to support all students, including students from underrepresented backgrounds, in thriving while in graduate school in Hopkins Neuroscience.

The Neuroscience Department and the Committee on Diversity and Inclusion has introduced discussions about diversity at Hopkins into the programming for visiting PhD applicants.

The Neuroscience Department contacts program advisors in the biological sciences, psychology and related programs at colleges nationwide serving students from underrepresented backgrounds to provide information and to encourage students to apply to our graduate program.

In 2018, the Student Diversity Committee began leading the discussion on issues of diversity included in the required first-year course, Rigor, Reproducibility, and Responsibility in Science (ME:440.819)