BEACON Center for the Study of Evolution in Action

The BEACON Center for the Study of Evolution in Action is a National Science Foundation Science and Technology Center founded in 2010. The center has the mission of illuminating and harnessing the power of evolution in action to advance science and technology and benefit society. With regard to diversity, BEACON’s goal was not just to recruit numbers of underrepresented minority students that exceeded national norms, but to make their mentoring experiences productive and fulfilling across all aspects of their scientific training, making them a natural selection for the Excellence in Diversity award.

BEACON’s partners and activities worked with a unified vision to improve the inclusion of women, underrepresented minorities, persons with disabilities, as well as those of diverse ethnicity, gender identity, language, religion, perspective, experience, nationality, job level, culture, skill, and thinking styles. BEACON succeeded in its mentoring goals because of its collective recognition of the important role that proactive approaches guided by shared values play in creating a scientific culture of integrity and excellence.

BEACON has led by example in its diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives. BEACON has sponsored and provided resources for students to attend multiple events with a DEI focus, including the national meetings for the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science and the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students. BEACON has also supported the Undergraduate Diversity Initiative at the annual Society for the Study of Evolution meetings. 

Throughout the ten years of the BEACON project, their recruitment and retention efforts for diverse and underrepresented persons exceeded expectations and national norms, and their efforts have led to significantly more inclusive instances of classroom teaching, mentoring relationships, and lab supervision. The Beacon Center is highly deserving of the Excellence in Diversity award.