Department of Biology

Biology Department Committee on Justice, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Mission Statement

Our Justice, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (JEDI) mission arose out of a commitment to foster and celebrate diversity within our department and to ensure equitable learning opportunities for all in our community. Exchange of different viewpoints is not only integral for scientific endeavors but also important for the enrichment of education and growth of individuals and community. However, multiple systemic barriers exist that limit the potential of social diversity, including in academia. We hope to address those obstacles by striving to increase participation of underrepresented groups at all academic tiers in the Biology Department and more broadly at Georgetown University. We envision a diverse Biology Department where we expect prior assumptions and biases, both academic and personal, to be respectfully challenged, and from this to allow ideas thus tested and defended to grow, intertwine, and create a department that is highly collaborative and supportive of every member of our community. All are welcome, we will change with your membership. We welcome honest and open discussion, share stories, and encourage feedback on diversity issues.

Charge Statement

The Committee on Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) consists of undergraduate students, graduate students, research staff/fellows, non-tenure line teaching faculty, and tenure-line faculty. The committee’s responsibilities include: 

JDEI Working Group:

Shweta Bansal

Shweta Bansal

I am an infectious disease ecologist, and have been a member of the Georgetown faculty since 2012. I am also a woman of color, a 1.5 generation immigrant, a vegetarian, and an introvert. I believe in celebrating the uniqueness of each of us as individuals, and bringing together our diverse strengths to create something more than the sum of its parts. My research, which integrates approaches from biology, mathematics and computer science, centers on this idea by focusing on the role of variation in the spread of infection across populations. As an educator, I am passionate about increasing the breadth of people, thought, and experience that are a part of the quantitative sciences. As a member of the JDEI committee, I commit to helping our community in the Department of Biology become more diverse, respectful, accessible and inclusive.


Meghan Bullard

I am a PhD student in the He lab and am interested in the cellular mechanisms underlying experience-dependent neuroplasticity. My faith as a Christian has made me passionate about defending the inherent dignity and value of each person which led me to do a lot of advocacy and justice work in college and now in grad school.  At Georgetown on the JEDI committee, I am interested in developing quantitative and practical measurements to determine where JEDI issues need to be especially addressed and what are the best practices to implement these proposals within the Biology Department. 

Mun C Chan

Mun Chan

I am a teaching professor in the Biology Department. Before this, I was a biomedical researcher, a graduate student, a technician, and an undergraduate in Science. I am an immigrant, and a person of color. I have been the recipient of sincere, generous welcome and acceptance in the scientific community; but I have also experienced and seen the inequities that gatekeeps who can be in this field, and who are unwelcome. My work at Georgetown has been focused on changing these barriers to entry and success, especially in the classroom. Every student in a course should have a reasonable chance to learn and succeed in that course and field, and it is our role as teachers, as a department, as a community to provide the tools, interventions, and structures needed for that to happen. I work both in the Biology Department, as well as at the Center For New Designs in Learning and Scholarship (CNDLS) at Georgetown towards this goal.

Isaac Cervantes Sandoval

Isaac Cervantes-Sandoval

I am a neuroscientist trying to understand how memories are encoded, stored, retrieved, and forgotten. I am a Mexican immigrant, a first-generation college student. I believe in a borderless world where every individual is a part of the same unity. We just happened to occupy different times and spaces. Our research focuses on try understand the biology of memories. For this, we use the fruit flies as an animal model. Our research efforts are driven mainly by our scientific curiosity, and as a mentor, I instill the love for science in all our lab members. Our lab is a team of equals with no hierarchies trying to generate a new piece of data to understand the brain better. Scientific data does not care about race, gender, or social status. I recently joined the JEDI committee to help dissolve inequities and underrepresentation in academia.

Heidi Elmendorf

Heidi Elmendorf

I am many things – a teacher, a researcher, and an activist. I’ve been at Georgetown since 1999 as a faculty member in the Department of Biology. Teaching is part of who I am, not just what I do. Helping students find their place in the vast field of biology is a particular passion – hence my long commitment to teaching courses at the introductory level: Foundations in Biology 1, gateway courses in the Biology of Global Health major, and Science for All courses. I’ve spent my research career in the field of global health, studying parasitic diseases that primarily affect the world’s most underprivileged peoples and my lab is currently taking a biophysics approach to understanding cell behaviors of Giardia lamblia. I’ve struggled for a long time with my passion for my work as a professor, and the exclusive nature of science and higher education. As a consequence, much of the latter half of my career has been devoted to educational equity issues, and I serve as the founding director of both the Regents STEM Scholars Program and of The Hub for Equity and Innovation in Higher Education.


Vivienne Foroughirad

I am a postdoctoral fellow studying the ecological drivers of social behavior in bottlenose dolphins. I am also lucky to teach courses on data analysis, marine mammals, and animal behavior. As a behavioral ecologist, I am interested in how education in evolutionary biology and ecology shapes how people relate to and see themselves as a part of the natural world. As part of this DEI committee, I hope to take action to improve access to scientific research careers for undergraduates and the local community, and especially to improve accessibility, safety, and fair labor practices in field research. I see science and activism as complementary endeavors.

Kimberly Nguyen

Kimberly Nguyen

I am a senior undergraduate on the premed track with a major in Biology of Global Health and a Spanish minor. I grew up in Northern Virginia, a diverse community with people from all different backgrounds. I have found that language and culture bring people together, so I brought my desire to connect people towards language building to break down these barriers. The healthcare field is one that requires comfort and communication to be successful. I want to be the bridge between healthcare and underserved communities through my passion for connecting and building community. On campus, I can be seen in cultural clubs like the Vietnamese Student Association and Asian American Student Association. I have worked with the CSJ, attending Magis DC and working for DC Reads, and I am a Peer Advisor for the Office of Global Education, encouraging study abroad. I am also a proud member of Community Scholars, Georgetown Scholars, and Regents STEM Scholars Program. 

Giselle Rasquinha

I am a sophomore undergraduate majoring in Biology with prospective minors in Women’s and Gender Studies and Justice and Peace Studies. I grew up on Long Island, New York, where I grew up appreciating diverse cultures while becoming aware of the lack of resources that exist for marginalized communities. I am passionate about combating these disparities in the field of science. On campus, I am a part of GlobeMed, Georgetown’s Scientific Research Journal, Hatch Tutors, and the Asian American Student Association. 


Calandra Stanley

I am a postdoctoral fellow studying the behavioral ecology and conservation of migratory birds. At Georgetown, I have also had the opportunity to co-instruct a course on animal migration and tomentor undergraduate students in the Marra lab. I strongly believe everyone should have equal access to a career path in STEM. They should be able to pursue this path in an environment free of harassment or discrimination and in an environment that recognizes the advantages and disadvantages held by people entering this field. As part of the DEI committee, I am interested in exploring how we can improve access to careers in ecology and behavior and, in particular, addressing barriers to research opportunities for undergraduates and post-graduates.