Inhibition in the CNS GRS

See this page on my co-chair’s website

We (Emily Aery Jones & Lauren Hewitt) are organizing the Inhibition in the CNS 2021 Gordon Research Seminar (GRS), the 1-day trainee-only portion of the full-week Gordon conference. On this page, we will share the steps we are taking to build a diverse and inclusive conference.

Introduction

When we were elected to chair the Inhibition in the CNS 2021 GRS, we ran on a platform of increasing diversity and representation across several axes. Those axes included: brain regions, animal models, levels of abstraction, labs, countries of origin, ethnicities, and genders. We prioritized these axes based on resounding feedback from 2019 conference attendees. Greater diversity along gender and ethnicity axes leads to higher impact science (Campbell et al. 2013, Freeman & Huang 2014, AlShebli et al, 2018). We envision that diversity along all these axes will create a more vibrant and engaging conference experience.

Our own privilege affords us power to make these changes. To borrow from Lilla Watson, our success is bound up with the success of everyone. We acknowledge that the attendees have experienced discrimination in their careers, that their experiences are valid, and that it is on us to raise awareness and not let them happen again. We further recognize that representation matters, and whoever speaks has power. Therefore, it is on us to be intentional in our design such that all are welcome and thrive.

Below, we outline the conference design, which we have subtitled Diversity of Inhibitory Systems, to support this goal by (1) inviting everyone to participate, (2) designing an inclusive environment, and (3) making our work transparent & accountable.

Step 1: Inviting Everyone to Participate

Finding Speakers: Casting a Wide Net

Finding Speakers: Scientific Topics Prioritized

Speaker & Attendee Selection Criteria

We encourage everyone with applicable research interests to apply to Inhibition in the CNS 2021 GRS and GRC. In order to have an engaging, enriching conference, we will be accepting attendees and offering speaker & discussion leader slots such that they meet our representation goals. Our hope is to make room for those who don’t usually attend this conference. This will include prioritizing the following applications:

Conference Design to Promote Collaboration

Gordon research conferences have a successful format that they encourage all conferences to adhere closely to, so we will not be changing the format of the sessions. However, we will be adding a ‘mixer meal’. Attendees will be matched on submitted abstracts into groups of ~6 based on topic and lab to promote cross-disciplinary conversations. We will encourage everyone to spend the first meal of the conference with their group with the goal of sparking connections that will last far beyond the conference week.

Step 2: Designing an Inclusive Environment

Accomodations

We have confirmed that the venue is able to provide the following accommodations. If you are attending, please specify any accommodations you need from this list in the ‘Special Needs’ field.

Funding

Our fundraising goal budget prioritizes the following costs:

Due to US tax policy, we can only cover registration fees in advance. Other covered expenses will be covered through reimbursement.

We encourage eligible attendees to apply to the Carl Storm Underrepresented Minority Fellowship and will nominate eligible attendees to International Diversity and Primary Undergraduate Institution fellowships.

Practices at the Conference

Step 3: Making Our Work Transparent & Accountable

To ensure these goals are met, we are making them public, detailed, transparent, and open to feedback from the community. We have set our goals in advance, made them explicit, and published them here so that we can be held accountable for our work and so all who contribute to this conference are aware of its design. We will be soliciting feedback from specific community members to iterate on its design. At the conference start, we will report out on how we met (or failed to meet) our goals. At the conference end, we will ask for feedback from attendees on what did and did not work and share the summary assessment publicly.

Resources

Below are the main contributors to this conference design:

Databases of female scientists and scientists of color:

Contributors

In recognition of everyone whose ideas helped shape the design. Please email us with feedback, and your name will be included here, too!