Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Our goal is to develop a more diverse community across academia, industry, and government by promoting diversity, equity and inclusion in space education and research across the University of Michigan Space Institute. To do this we must:

  • Identify the challenges to DEI in the Space Institute and the needs of underrepresented community members
  • Develop and enact policies to support equity and inclusivity in the Space Institute
  • Build networks for DEI support and awareness of DEI issues
  • Coordinate symposia and workshops that support research and career development of Space Institute members

We understand that science and engineering fields have percentages of women and minorities that are well below those of the general population. This is an undesirable situation in and of itself, but research has also shown that diverse and inclusive groups lead to more creative solutions to tough problems.

As the Space Institute will bring people together from across campus, from the many different schools, colleges, and programs within the University of Michigan, we will be a highly diverse group. We believe this will strengthen and enhance our collective talents, and that our community will rise to meet the unique challenges present in space research and exploration. This commitment to inclusive collaboration will empower us continue the historic leadership role played by the University of Michigan in space-related science and engineering as we look toward a future of expanding possibilities.

The Space Institute will work with the University of Michigan’s  Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, as well as unit-specific offices within the Colleges of Engineering and Literature, Science, and the Arts. We will incorporate elements and objectives from both the U-M DEI Strategic Plan, and from the specific unit plans.

One of our first initiatives in this area will be to host a customized, virtual version of the PI Launchpad Workshop. Prior to COVID, the University of Michigan was scheduled to host the PI Launchpad Workshop in conjunction with the NASA Science Mission Directorate. Due to COVID, we will host a customized version of the workshop for University of Michigan PIs using the NASA PI Launchpad Workshop recordings, tentatively planned for the fall 2021 semester. Once COVID restrictions are fully lifted, we will host the PI Launchpad Workshop at the University of Michigan. The workshop brings a diverse and enthusiastic group of young scientists with exciting ideas for potential space missions together with experienced NASA HQ staff and PIs from previous NASA-funded missions. Our customized virtual workshop will provide valuable opportunities for discussions about what it means to be the principal investigator of a space mission with successful University of Michigan PIs.

Kathleen Sevener

Kathleen Sevener

Associate Director for Campus Community Engagement

U-M Materials Science & Engineering