Activating a Neural Network: Admission Strategies to Increase Diverse Neuroscience Trainees Workshop Agenda

Activating a Neural Network: Admission Strategies to Increase Diverse Neuroscience Trainees Workshop

April 10 - 11, 2017


This workshop was held to discuss the issues, misconceptions, and barriers that currently exist in neuroscience graduate admissions programs with regard to diverse trainees. The attendees were neuroscience graduate program directors and admissions committee chairs, directors of neuroscience undergraduate research programs, and experts in graduate admissions and diversity. The meeting was a follow-up to an April 2016 meeting on "Forming a Neural Network" between NINDS-funded R25 programs and also the NINDS T32 Regional Meetings that have included discussions on increasing diversity of the workforce.

The goals of this meeting were 1) to build alliances between individuals who are actively engaged in addressing workforce diversity and individuals engaged in neuroscience graduate admissions and training; 2) to identify opportunities and share successful approaches for effective recruitment, training, and retention of diverse individuals; and 3) to foster dialog around intervention strategies to support diverse trainees at critical transition points along the career path.

The objectives of this meeting were conceived in accordance with the mission and recommendations of the NIH ACD Working Group on Diversity in the Biomedical Research Workforce in the Biomedical Research Workforce to address the “leak” of diverse individuals from the biomedical workforce.

Read the full Executive Summary(pdf, 383 KB) 

Read the full Meeting Summary(pdf, 886 KB) 

Download the Program Booklet(pdf, 1539 KB) 

Agenda and Resources

A neural network works by creating connections between processing elements. The organization and weights of the connections determine the output.

DAY 1: April 10, 2017

Time Event Resources
7:30 – 8:00 am Registration  
8:00 – 8:15 am


Walter Koroshetz, MD, Director, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

8:15 – 8:30 am

Meeting Goals

Michelle Jones-London, PhD, NINDS

8:30 – 9:35 am

Featured Lecture

Julie R. Posselt, PhD, University of Southern California
Assistant Professor, Rossier School of Education
Fellow, National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation

Inside Graduate Admissions: Merit, Diversity, and Faculty Gatekeeping

How so-called colorblind admissions reviews create barriers for people of color

Disciplinary Logics in Doctoral Admissions: Understanding Patterns of Faculty Evaluation (pdf, 515 kb)

Toward Inclusive Excellence in Graduate Education: Constructing Merit and Diversity in PhD Admissions

9:50 – 11:10 am


Interconnected Nodes: Where do I find the talent and how do I make connections?

Moderator: Edgardo Falcon-Morales, PhD, NINDS
Background: Edgardo Falcon-Morales, PhD, NINDS 
Vanya Quiñones-Jenab, PhD, Hunter College of the City University of New York
Diane Lipscombe, PhD, Brown University
Rochelle Smith, PhD, Washington University in St. Louis

  • How can R25s connect with graduate programs?
  • What are successful recruitment strategies for T32s? Where can they find resources or make connections with diverse students and programs?
  • How do students choose graduate programs to apply to and attend?
Slides(pdf, 430 KB) (pdf, 420 kb)
11:25 – 12:30 pm

Featured Lecture 
Anna O'Connell
Director, Biological & Biomedical Sciences Program
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill



Video Presentation

Slides(pdf, 901 KB) (pdf, 881 kb)

Predictors of Student Productivity in Biomedical Graduate School Applications

The Limitations of the GRE in Predicting Success in Biomedical Graduate School

 12:30 – 1:40 pm  LUNCH BREAK  
1:40 - 3:00 pm


Input, Hidden, and Output LayersDefining and solving challenges in graduate admissions

Moderator: Steve Korn, PhD, NINDS
Background: Julia Kent, PhD, Council of Graduate Schools 
Assistant Vice President, Communications, Advancement and Best Practices
Kathryn Saatman, PhD, University of Kentucky
Marion Buckwalter, MD, PhD, Stanford University
Gary Westbrook, MD, Oregon Health & Science University
Jose Garcia, PhD, University of Puerto Rico

  • What are the challenges in graduate admissions from the perspective of graduate programs, R25s, and institutions?
  • How do you successfully employ holistic graduate admissions? What solutions have you employed? How can institutions be prepared to find talent in all forms?
  • What are graduate programs looking for in a student? Who do they invite for interview? For admission? How can students be best prepared to succeed?

Slides(pdf, 803 KB) (pdf, 784 kb)

Holistic Review in Graduate Admissions (pdf, 2.1 mb)

Holistic Admissions in the Health Professions (pdf, 768 kb)

Doctoral Initiative on Minority Attrition and Completion (pdf, 1.9 mb)

3:15 - 4:20 pm

Featured Lecture 
Kimberly Griffin, PhD, University of Maryland
Associate Professor, Higher Education, Student Affairs, and International Education Policy Program



Video Presentation

Slides(pdf, 363 KB) (pdf, 355 kb)

Graduate Diversity Officers and Efforts to Retain Students of Color

Biomedical Science Ph.D. Career Interest Patterns by Race/Ethnicity and Gender

What Do I Want to Be with My PhD? The Roles of Personal Values and Structural Dynamics in Shaping the Career Interests of Recent Biomedical Science PhD Graduate

4:30 - 5:50 pm


Long-term Potentiation: Inclusion and successful advancement of graduate students

Moderator: Letitia Weigand, PhD, NINDS
Background: Rick McGee, PhD, Northwestern University
Associate Dean, Faculty Recrutiment and Professional Development
Farah Lubin, PhD, University of Alabama at Birmingham
Kathleen Maguire-Zeiss, PhD, Georgetown University
Yoland Smith, PhD, Emory University

  • How can programs, departments and institutions ensure they have inclusive environments for all?
  • How to support, mentor and promote successful future transitions for diverse students? Are there strategies to support students through transitions employed by R25 programs that T32 programs can adopt and vice-versa?
  • How can R25s best prepare students for smooth transition to grad school and beyond
  • Presenting student outcomes from example programs

Slides(pdf, 1931 KB) (pdf, 1.9 mb)

Scientific growth and identity development during a postbaccalaureate program: Results from a multisite qualitative study

Beyond preparation: Identity, cultural capital, and readiness for graduate school in the biomedical sciences

The Academy for Future Science Faculty: Randomized controlled trial of theory-driven coaching to shape development and diversity of early-career scientists

5:50 – 6:00 pm

Day One Wrap-up and ADJOURN

Michelle Jones-London, PhD



DAY 2: April 11, 2017

Time Event Resources
8:30 – 8:40 am

Welcome and Introduction of Activity

Lauren Ullrich, PhD, NINDS

8:40 – 10:30 am

Small Group Training

Entering Mentoring Curriculum and Implementation Plans

Facilitators: Christine Pfund, PhD, Associate Scientist, University of Wisconsin-Madison, NRMN Master Facilitator; Lauren Ullrich, PhD, NINDS; Chinonye Nnakwe, PhD, NSF; and Marguerite Matthews, PhD, NIH

Slides(pdf, 2786 KB) 

National Research Mentoring Network

Center for the Improvement of Mentored Experiences in Research

UMN Clinical and Translational Science Institute

10:40 – 11:40 am

Group Breakout Session

Three breakouts to discuss recruitment, admissions, and transitions and facilitate connections between programs.

  • How can programs make the case for the value of diversity to all faculty in department/institution? What kind of resources, training, etc. are needed and available for this? What can NIH, NINDS, institutions, Program Directors, admissions personnel, and students do to meet these challenges?
11:40 – 12:00 pm Report out, concluding remarks, and ADJOURN
Michelle Jones-London, PhD, and Steve Korn, PhD

Other resources are available on the meeting website