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The Steward Diversity and Inclusiveness Committee

The Steward Diversity and Inclusiveness Committee welcomes your thoughts and suggestions on making Steward the best place possible to work and thrive. Our charge is reproduced below. Please contact any one of us with your ideas and concerns. Some of Steward's recent accomplishments include partnering with the Cal-Bridge Program and continuing the TIMESTEP program.

Committee Members: Daniel Apai (chair), Rachael Amaro, Peter Behroozi, Gurtina Besla, Katia Cunha, Serena Kim, Don McCarthy (COS Committee Representative), Kelly Merrill (COS Committee Representative), Marcia Rieke, and Christina Williams

LGBT+ Inclusivity in Physics and Astronomy: A Best Practices Guide 

The APS and the AAS have produced a second edition of the LGBT+ guide which first appeared in 2014. The guide is available here, and contains sections relevant to many areas of Steward activities ranging from general departmental climate to hiring to class room climate to mentoring of grad students.

Committee Charge (adopted at the January 13, 2017, Faculty Meeting)

This committee will oversee efforts to ensure that Steward Observatory and the Department of Astronomy promote work and learning environments that make all people feel welcome, and that enable everyone to work at the highest levels possible. The committee will be expected to interact with College of Science and university-level diversity efforts both to learn from others and to show what is working for SO/DA. The issues confronting the diversity committee will vary across the Observatory and the Department, and solutions will need to be tailored to the various groups within the Observatory and Department. The goals of the Diversity Committee are:

  • Sustain diversity in the department by ensuring a healthy and inclusive climate, welcoming and supportive to all students, faculty and staff regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, or disability status.
  • Enhance diversity in the department at all levels through increased recruitment of students, faculty, and staff.
  • Build on the inclusive climate in the department to maximize the retention and graduation of undergraduate and graduate astronomy majors, eliminating disparities in graduation rates among diverse groups.
  • Implement best practices for mentoring and career development for faculty, students, and staff that promote equitable opportunities for career success. Periodic training in mentoring and diversity awareness should be arranged by the committee.
  • Ensure that Steward benefits from College of Science and University-level diversity and inclusion activities, and informs the College of Science and University-level groups of results from activities at Steward.

The committee will be responsible for providing assessments of the work and learning environments to ensure that an inclusive and supportive atmosphere is being maintained. The committee should develop and implement a procedure to collect input from the constituents of SO/DA on real and perceived problems and concerns; and by assessing that information establish and maintain a prioritized list of problems that need to be addressed (considering both urgency and impact). The committee should develop a short- and long-range plan to address these issues and should report to the faculty against those plan milestones. The committee shall translate the goals into a set of concrete steps to be taken both in the short term (few months time scale) and in the longer term. The committee may wish to develop a plan for equity, diversity, and inclusion.

The University of Arizona sits on the original homelands of indigenous peoples who have stewarded this land since time immemorial. Aligning with the university’s core value of a diverse and inclusive community, it is an institutional responsibility to recognize and acknowledge the people, culture and history that make up the Wildcat community. At the institutional level, it is important to be proactive in broadening awareness throughout campus to ensure our students feel represented and valued.

College of Science Cimate Committee webpage: (link).

Steward Observatory Initiatives to Promote Diversity & Inclusion in STEM

Black Hole PIRE Project

The BH Partnerships for International Research and Education (PIRE) actively engages under represented minority students at UA in in hands-on research and education activities in the areas of state-of-the-art radio instrumentation, virtual and augmented reality visualizations, digital technology development, high-performance computing, fast data transfer protocols, and big data statistics.

Contact: Rosie Johnson (


Diversity Journal Club

The Diversity Journal Club aims to engage with the Steward Observatory community at all levels on topics of equity, inclusion, and diversity.  The goal is to address the needs of our community and discuss meaningful changes to make Steward a more welcoming and inclusive community.

Organizers: Nicolas Garavito Camargo (, Samantha Scibelli (, Erin Maier (



Mentorship and Education in SCIence for Tucson (MESCIT) is a mentorship and math tutoring program for underrepresented K12 students, with UA undergraduate students providing one-on-one math tutoring. MESCIT was started on February 2018 serving the Native American students at Ha:san high school, and was expanded to also serve the refugee students at Mansfeld middle school in September 2019.

Contact: Irene Shivaei (

UA Team: Irene Shivaei, Everett Schlawin, Ryan Keenan, Gurtina Besla


New Physics and Astronomy Faculty Workshop

A program designed to help new faculty at research and four-year and two-year institutions understand how to become more effective educators and support their quest to gain tenure.

Contact: Ed Prather (


PI Launchpad

Teaching researchers (especially marginalized members of the space sciences) how to develop and PI a space mission.

Contact: Erika Hamden (



Social Action for a Grassroots Astrobiology Network to open pathways for curious minds to ask fundamental questions about life in our universe.

Contact: Betul Kacar (


Spanish Astronomy Lecture Series

The Spanish Astronomy Lecture Series is an event for the Hispanic Community of Tucson. Every semester a professional Astronomer gives a 45 min Astronomy talk entirely in spanish, followed by observing . After the talk, the observatory 21-inch telescope is open for the public. 

Organizers: Nicolas Garavito Camargo (, Raphael Hviding (, Gurtina Besla, Tom Fleming

Speakers 2019-2020: Dennis Zaritsky, Cristobal Petrovich, Undergrad Volunteers: Bianca Londra, Jose Perez Chavez, Jimena Stephenson

Speakers 2018-2019: Elena Manjavacas, Paola Pinilla, Undergrad Volunteers: Magda Andrade, Jose Perez Chavez


TIMESTEP: Tucson Initiative for Minority Engagement in Science and TEchnology Program

TIMESTEP is a bi-weekly discussion group about topics of professional development for undergraduates in STEM fields at U. Arizona. Meetings are open to all students, with programming designed to supporting student retention and graduation.

Contact: Gurtina Besla (


Tucson Women in Astronomy

Tucson Women in Astronomy (TWA) is a group for students and postdocs to socialize, network, and discuss the challenges and opportunities that arise from being women in STEM. 

Contact: Kate Grier  (


UA Native American Student Mentor Program

STEM mentoring between UA Native American STEM students and high school students participating in the MESCIT program.

Contact: Christina Williams (


Warrior-Scholar Project (UA Branch)

The Warrior-Scholar Project is a college transition program for veterans. At UA, it is an intensive two-week program covering both humanities and STEM fields, giving veterans an immersive experience of college classes and research, as well as giving them a support network to help promote success in their college careers.

Contact: Peter Behroozi (

Steward 2019 Team: Peter Behroozi, Katie Chamberlain, Erika Hamden, & Raphael Hviding

Photo by: Stephen Westby


Women in STEM Student Council

Women in STEM Student Council (WiSSC) is committed to the recruitment, retention, and graduation of female-identifying STEM students at UA through university wide programming, support of STEM student organizations,  and policy change.   With the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) program, WiSSC runs a university wide mentorship program, connecting students with industry leaders, faculty and alumni.

Council Members from Steward: Jane Bright, Allie Hughes 

Faculty Sponsor: Gurtina Besla

Women in STEM Faculty Mentors: Ann Zabludoff


External Programs Supported by Members of Steward Observatory

IAU School for Young Astronomers

The International School for Young Astronomers (ISYA) is the flagship IAU educational program targeting astronomy students in the developing world.

Steward Lecturers 42nd Meeting: Xiaohui Fan


IF/THEN AAAS Ambassadors

The AAAS IF/THEN Ambassadors program brings together 100 women from a variety of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics careers to serve as high-profile role models for middle school girls.

UA Role Models: Erika Hamden, Burcin Mutlu-Pakdil


StemTaught Foundation

The StemTaught Foundation is dedicated to bringing hands-on STEM to elementary school classrooms. They design STEM labs according to the Next Generation Science Standard that are accompanied by a journal-like article written by real scientists and engineers about the topic. Then they go into schools to teach the classes and train teachers on the material.

Contact: Stephanie Meyen  (


The Supernova Foundation

The Supernova Foundation is a mentorship network designed to inspire and encourage young women to pursue careers in Physics.

UA Mentor: Vivian Miranda


Women in Data Science Conference

The Women in Data Science (WiDS) initiative aims to inspire and educate data scientists worldwide, regardless of gender, and support women in the field.

UA Panelists: Ann Zabludoff


Women in Science and Engineering Excellence Banquet & Launching your Career Symposium

The Women in Science & Engineering banquet celebrates women in STEM and efforts to diversify STEM fields. The Launching Your Career Symposium is an all-day professional development and networking event targeting female students, post-doctoral scholars, and early career professionals in STEM fields from around the UA and the greater Tucson community.

Steward Key Note Speakers 2020: Feryal Ozel

Steward Panelists 2019: Gurtina Besla, Erika Hamden

Steward Panelists 2018: Gurtina Besla