The University of Windsor’s Office of Research and Innovation is pleased to announce two student winners of its first-ever Student Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) in Research award. This award was made possible through the generosity of Dr. Lisa Willis at the University of Alberta, who declined an honorarium when she spoke to researchers last fall about new data and best practices in lab diversity. Instead, Dr. Willis asked that the Office of the Vice President, Research and Innovation recognize students who were advancing EDI practices in their own labs and research projects, with a particular focus on STEM fields. Ten nominations were received, and an adjudication committee comprised of faculty members from Science, Engineering, and Human Kinetics selected this years recipients, Aislyn Lewis-Laurent (Chemistry and Biochemistry/Computer Science) and Erica Rossi (Engineering).
Aislyn Lewis-Laurent is currently finishing her BSc with Honors in Biochemistry & Computer Science at the University of Windsor and looking forward to a career Computational Chemistry. As Google’s Women Techmaker Ambassador for the Windsor Essex region, she helps improve the lives and careers of women in tech. She is part of the RISE network, which partners with organizations throughout the community strives to hold business accountable while helping them reach their EDI goals. Aislyn also leads the University of Windsor’s chapter of Google’s Developer Student Club where she works to recruit and showcase the talents of women, members of the LGBTQ+ community and ethnically diverse students. Beyond these organizations, Aislyn has worked to support several events including the LGBTQ+STEM Conference, and BorderHacks, Windsor’s first ever cross border hackathon which brought together over 600 students worldwide to strengthen the relationship with our American neighbours and develop solutions for a better future. Aislyn was nominated by Dr. James Gault and Dr. Drew Marquardt (Chemistry and Biochemistry).
Erica Rossi advocates for EDI for within her local and university community, through her volunteer work with FIRST Robotics, and as an Outstanding Scholar. Through her research with Dr. Lori Buchanan in the department of Psychology she has combined EDI advocacy with her mechanical engineering education to explore the relationship between how male and female engineering students view themselves as engineers and how that compares to the qualities of an engineer that they endorse as important. Engineering has traditionally been a male dominated field with engrained gender inequities that still have reach to this day. Through this research Erica hopes to develop a deeper understanding of the implications of these various inequities and how it affects a student’s self-perspective. By understanding these relationships, she believes we can work towards developing a more progressive and equitable engineering culture. Erica is the President of Women in Engineering at the University and the Chair of the FIRST Robotics ED&I Youth Advisory Council. Erica was nominated by Dr. Lori Buchanan (Psychology).
Vice-president of research and innovation K.W. Michael Siu congratulated both award winners. “More and more, universities are recognizing and understanding the critical importance of developing a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive research community, and I want to thank Aislyn and Erica for the contributions they have already made to this growing area of understanding,” Dr. Siu said. “The pace of change in this area will only accelerate in the coming years, and it gives me great confidence to know that UWindsor students are already taking the lead and moving the academy in the right direction.”