Our Origin Story

Black Excellence in STEM (BE-STEM) at UCSF is a student organization founded in 2020 at UCSF. It is the second chapter of BE-STEM, the first being the San Francisco State University (SFSU) chapter.

Our story begins earlier than you think...

While UCSF has historically had several Black student organizations such as SNMA housed in the School of Medicine, SNDA (in the Dental School), periodically BSHA (spanning all professional and graduate schools), the Graduate Division lacked an organization made by and for Black students and postdocs where we could build community and coalesce to raise issues that affect us.

With Dr. D'Anne Duncan's arrival in 2017, a larger focus was given to these trainee's well being. Dr. Duncan organized several events to support Black PhD students' community at UCSF, such as the Black PhD Student Lunch Mixer that was done on a quarterly basis to meet and connect with fellow graduate students in UCSF's PhD Programs. This informal luncheon mixer was an opportunity to share personal stories of how to academically and personally navigate graduate school, and build community among fellow Black and African American PhD students.

When our sparks turned into flames...

Talks to start BE-STEM at UCSF started in early 2019 with Muryam Gourdet being the catalyst through her connection with BE-STEM at SFSU. [Muryam connection to SFSU, Jasmine Sims coming to UCSF from SFSU]. Through Muryam, Sean Ganther got involved, providing the organizational structure of what in the future would be BE-STEM/UCSF and as its Interim President. [Sean Ganther insert comments]

On May 1st 2019, we held our first meeting with BE-STEM/SFSU members in order to discuss our organization at UCSF. In attendance were from UCSF: Sean Ganther, Muryam Gourdet, Dr. D'Anne Duncan, Nadia Ayad. And from SFSU: Jasmine Sims, Alia Eddington,....

In it, we discussed our shared goals, potential collaborations and the hope that BE-STEM/UCSF would be chartered by Fall 2019 with Sean Ganther still as the Interim President, Nadia Ayad as the President starting in Fall 2019 and Muryam Gourdet as the Outreach Coordinator. However, personal and professional circumstances prevented the interim leadership to charter BE-STEM/UCSF during that time and we decided to charter the organization the following academic cycle, in Spring 2020.

Through trials, BE-STEM emerged to triumph...

During 2020, with the COVID-19 pandemic, the deaths of George Floyd and Brianna Taylor and the subsequent reckoning of ongoing police brutality and racial inequalities against Black people, it became critical to create a space for Black trainees. Several of our members were involved in efforts to address and change their individual programs' treatment of Black scientists. [link petitions etc.] However, there was an increased urgency to have a central organization where administration and other people involved in decisions that affected us could reach out to us directly and that could speak to the collective needs of Black students. Throughout June 2020 we invited all UCSF current Black students and postdocs to our listserv and slack channel and on July 15th, 2020, we had our first election. Our inaugural board included:

Co-President: Nadia Ayad

Co-President: Chase Webb

Treasurer: Jasmine Sims

Diversity and Outreach Officer: Muryam Gourdet

Diversity and Outreach Officer: Christina Stephens

Diversity and Outreach Officer: Darnell Cuylear

Student Events and Publicity Officer: Ekland Abdiwahab

Career and Academic Affairs Officer: Jasmine King

Digital Communications Officer: Elizabeth McCarthy

Dr. D'Anne Duncan served as the advisor for BE-STEM upon its inception in 2020, where she supported BE-STEM leadership with establishing and implementing the organization's strategic visions, goals, and strategy for community engagement with fellow Black PhD students at UCSF and throughout the Bay Area. Dr. Duncan is very proud of the establishment of BE-STEM and looks forward to the organization's growth and impact at UCSF, SFSU, and the greater Bay Area community.

Welcome to Black Excellence in STEM (BE-STEM)! We hope to serve you here by having a welcoming and affirming community and being a strong advocate for your needs here at UCSF. Our goal is to improve the experience of current Black trainees at UCSF, increase Black representation in STEM and to mentor the next generation of Black scientists.