Belonging Black Association affinity group cultivates welcoming environment


The Black Association at Salk (BAS) was one of the first affinity groups formed at Salk in 2020. Since that time, it has established itself as a welcoming space and go-to for resources for all Black Salk community members. Additionally, it has provided professional development and educational opportunities to the entire Salk community, contributing greatly to the Institute’s scientific goals.

“We are honored to give the Black members of our community a place to come together and celebrate Black excellence,” says Jasmin Revanna, a graduate student in Professor Rusty Gage’s lab and co-chair of BAS. “We also make it a point to emphasize that this group is open for allies and non-Black individuals. It is so crucial to have these supporters help with our events and to help recruit diverse candidates to Salk.”

The group is proactive in holding mixers and celebrations, as well as sponsoring lectures and events on campus.

For the second year in a row, BAS hosted a Black in STEM panel discussion and Q&A at the Salk Institute. The event, held on February 28, featured three outstanding scientists from three different fields (neuroscience, plant biology, and marine biology). The panelists, Charisse Nicole Winston, Kevin Cox, and Eric Archer, discussed their research, as well as their efforts to raise awareness and broaden opportunities for mentorship, professional development, and academic support. The panel was held as part of the celebration of Black History Month, and was moderated by Austin Coley, Salk postdoctoral researcher in Professor Kay Tye’s lab, co-chair of BAS, and incoming assistant professor at UCLA.

“Black in STEM events are critical for highlighting the success of Black scientists and providing a network for all of us to tap into to find these spectacular candidates to visit our institutions.”

–Jasmin Revanna

“We were so thrilled to host the Black in STEM panel again this year,” Revanna says. BAS received so much interest for last year’s event from neighboring institutions and even from some across the country, that it prompted the group to extend invitations to those institutions to join this year’s discussion in person or online. “We hope this is an event that will continue for years to come.”

BAS has future events planned for 2024—including a Juneteenth celebration—all with the aim of cultivating a culture of belonging.

“We want to make sure we are creating a welcoming environment for anyone that joins Salk so they feel represented here,” Revanna says

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