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Your Environment. Your Health.

Diversity Speaker Series

diverse crowd

Upcoming Event

Samantha-Rae Dickinson

NIEHS Diversity Speaker Series: Meet the NIH Special Emphasis Portfolio Strategist
Samantha-Rae Dickenson, Ed.D., M.P.H.
Principal Strategist, SEP for Black Employees
NIH Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
February 24, 2021 • 2:00 - 3:00 p.m.

Launched in February 2018, the Diversity Speaker Series is designed to recognize and acknowledge the Special Emphasis Portfolios, as designed by the NIH Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, and to place special emphasis on positive, equitable, and inclusive employment experiences for federally identified and underrepresented groups. Through this speaker series, we hope to provide educational and cultural/sensitivity awareness opportunities for NIEHS and surrounding communities.

Recognition Months and Special Emphasis Portfolios

Each group has a traditional month for recognition. Speakers are invited to present their work and/or their story with focus on the identified portfolio during the associated month.

Month Recognition Special Emphasis Portfolio
February Black History Month Black/African Americans
March Women’s History Month Women
May Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders
June Pride Month Sexual and Gender Minorities/LGBTQIA
September/October Hispanic Heritage Month Hispanics
October National Disability Employment Awareness Month People with Disabilities
November Native American Heritage Month Native Americans

Speakers from any background, culture, or walk of life can also be invited at any time of year. Recognition, acknowledgement, and celebration are everyday events!

Previous Speakers

Date Presentation Title Speakers Affiliation Recognition
December 2020 NIEHS Families Raising Children With Special Needs: Joys and Challenges Amidst COVID-19 Gwen and David Collman, Cheryl Thompson and Maddy and Jasper Smith, Rhonda and Joseph Carroll NIEHS Disability
March 2020 Translational Research to Prevent Environmental Threats to Children: From Chemicals to Climate Change Frederica Perera, Dr.P.H., Ph.D. Columbia University Spirit Lecture, Women’s History Month
February 2020 Lifting All Boats: How We Can Eliminate Disparities Among Patients and the Doctors Who Treat Them O. Fayanju, M.D. Duke University Black History Month
November 2019 Environmental Health Issues Affecting Native American Tribes in the Americas Trey Saddler, Data Scientist National Institute of Environmental Sciences Native American Heritage Month
October 2019 From Science to Advocacy Stella Sieber, B.S., and Nancy Payne, R.N., MSN, CNS, CWCN Duke University National Disability Employment Awareness Month, Disability Awareness
June 2019 Transgender Health Care Tonia Poteat, Ph.D., PA-C, M.P.H. University of North Carolina Pride Month
June 2019 Genetic Journey to Understanding Me Victor Ruthig, Ph.D. Duke University Pride Month
March 2019 A Winding Path to a Rewarding Career in Public Health Germaine Buck Lewis, Ph.D., M.S. George Mason University Spirit Lecture, Women’s History Month
February 2019 Black Man in a White Coat Damon Tweedy, M.D. Duke University Black History Month
October 2018 Many Diverse Voices and Colors Enhancing Our Traditions: Celebrating Hispanic and Latino American Culture, Heritage and Contributions Alfonso Latoni, Ph.D. National Institute of Environmental Sciences Hispanic Heritage Month, Latin Culture
March 2018 Developing Individuals With Different Minds Temple Grandin, Ph.D. Colorado State University Spirit Lecture, Women’s History Month
February 2018 Strategies to Create Momentum Around Diversity in Higher Education Sherilynn Joy Black, Ph.D. Duke University Black History Month

Annual NIEHS Spirit Lecture and Award

Spirit Lecture Logo

The Spirit Lecture and Award, inaugurated by the NIEHS Diversity Council in 2002, recognizes outstanding women in science who have achieved balance in their lives. Successfully navigating today’s workplace involves balancing responsibilities for families, jobs, and the multiple roles in which they participate. In addition, these women mentor and provide outreach to the wider community, all of which compete for their time and talents. In recognition of Women’s History Month, the selected honoree is invited to share her experiences with the NIEHS community at an annual talk and award ceremony. The NIEHS Spirit Lecture became a part of the Diversity Speaker Series in 2018.

Spirit Lecture Honorees

  • 2020 Frederica Perera, Dr.P.H., Ph.D., Columbia University, “Translational Research to Prevent Environmental Threats to Children: From Chemicals to Climate Change
  • 2019 Germaine Louis, Ph.D., M.S., George Mason University, “A Winding Path to a Rewarding Career in Public Health
  • 2018 Temple Grandin, Ph.D., Colorado State University, “Developing Individuals Who Have Different Kinds of Minds
  • 2017 Jane Fernandez, Ph.D., Guilford College, “Convergence and Balance”
  • 2016 Yvonne Maddox, Ph.D., Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, “Building a Meaningful Career: Insights from Precision Medicine”
  • 2015 Hannah Valantine, M.D., MRCP, “Lessons Learned From My Career Path: Science to Diversity”
  • 2014 Carol Folt, Ph.D., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, “From Science to Leadership: Women Leaning In”
  • 2013 Lydia Villa-Komaroff, Ph.D., Cytonome/ST, "A Life in Science: From Cloning to Cell Therapies"
  • 2012 Gail R. Martin, D.Sc., University of California, San Francisco, “From Stem Cells to Complex Patterning in Embryo”
  • 2011 Nancy Andrews, M.D., Ph.D., Duke University, “Women Sustaining the American Spirit”
  • 2010 Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D., National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, “You Can Have It All”
  • 2009 Rita R. Colwell, Ph.D., University of Maryland and John Hopkins, “Climate, Oceans, Infectious Disease and Human Health: The Saga of Cholera”
  • 2008 Lisa Alvarez-Cohen, Ph.D., University of California, Berkley, “Application of Omics-Based Tools and Microarrays to Optimize Bioremediation”
  • 2007 Alice S. Huang, Ph.D., California Institute Technology, “Beyond the Numbers: Where are We Going?”
  • 2006 Nora Volkow, M.D., “National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Addiction: The Neurobiology of Free Will Gone Awry”
  • 2005 Shirley Malcom, Ph.D., American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), “Women in Science: Making Choices and Taking Chances”
  • 2003 Rev. Donna M. Claycomb, M.Div, D.Min, Duke University, “For Such a Time as This”


Ericka Reid
Ericka L. Reid, Ph.D., M.Ed.
Director, Office of Science Education & Diversity
Tel 984-287-3789
P.O. Box 12233
Mail Drop B2-06
Durham, N.C. 27709
Suzanne Osborne
Suzy S. Osborne, R.N.
Program Analyst, Office of Science Education & Diversity
Tel 984-287-3813
Fax 301-480-3636
P.O. Box 12233
Mail Drop B2-06
Durham, N.C. 27709
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