News Release

Jacobs School of Engineering Faculty Earn Diversity Awards

San Diego, Calif., March 2, 2015 -- They recruit Ph.D. students and postdoctoral researchers from diverse backgrounds. They mentor underrepresented students inside their own research groups as well as those traditionally underrepresented in engineering undergraduate programs. They reach out to high school students to encourage them to pursue engineering as a major in college.

For their efforts, University of California, San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering professors Tara Javidi and Todd Coleman have been awarded the 2015 UC San Diego Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action and Diversity Award.

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Tara Javidi received a 2015 UC San Diego Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action and Diversity Award. 

Javidi, a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, has championed diversity throughout her time at UC San Diego on many fronts, including undergraduate advising and support, graduate student and postdoc diversity and faculty diversity.

Javidi’s research involves stochastic analysis, design and control of information collection, processing, and transfer in modern communication and networking systems. 

As part of her work with undergraduates, Javidi has partnered with programs like the McNair Scholars Program since 2010 to find promising underrepresented minority undergraduates. She tutors them on coursework and reviews their resumes.

“Since I started working with professor Javidi, I have always felt her genuine interest in my academic success, and overall wellbeing,” said Nancy Ronquillo, an alumnus of the McNair Scholars Program and winner of the first Place Award for Oral Presentation at the Emerging Researchers National Conference in STEM. “She has motivated me to pursue excellence in my work and repeatedly inspired me to follow my dreams.”

Ronquillo is now a Sloan Scholar as a result of Javidi’s participation in the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation University Center for Exemplary Mentoring as an expert in STEM diversity programs, for which she was recruited in 2015.

In addition to her participation in partner programs, Javidi has been the faculty advisor for the UC San Diego student chapter of the Society of Women Engineers since 2005.

In her role as a graduate and postdoctoral mentor, Javidi has been a reviewer, panelist and faculty mentor for the UC President Postdoctoral Fellowship Program. She is currently a faculty mentor for Corey Baker, a UC President Postdoc.

“Professor Javidi continues to demonstrate her commitment to diversity by serving on committees which promote diversity as well as mentor and advising underrepresented students in her research lab,” said Baker. “Tara is truly deserving of this award. Currently, she is responsible for leading my post-doctoral training and preparation for a career in academia. I am truly grateful to have Tara as a mentor as she continues to show me how to identify and tackle complex research problems, train graduate students, and collaborate with other researchers.”

Todd Coleman

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Bioengineering professor Todd Coleman also received an award.

Todd Coleman is the son of two educators. As a professor in the Department of Bioengineering, one important aspect of his mission is to help build a diversity pipeline at UC San Diego, for both the undergraduate and graduate students.

Coleman is currently a research mentor for no fewer than 10 female and under-represented undergraduate students, who take part in the research projects within his group.  Alumni of his group have gone on to industry, graduate school and medical school.

Coleman also serves as a faculty member in the UCSD STARS program, which brings undergraduate students to campus for an eight-week summer residential program focused on scientific research.  During the program, Coleman recruited Kwesi Rutledge, then an undergraduate student at Michigan, and now a PhD student in the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering at the Jacobs School. He also motivated two students from the University of Puerto Rico to apply to UC San Diego this year. 

With Michelle Ferrez, director of the IDEA Student Center, Coleman serves as faculty leader for the Program on Student Success in Engineering, or POSSE, at Gompers Preparatory High School. The program’s goal is to build a “posse” of diverse leaders at the school who will encourage students to study engineering. It also involves parents in discussions about supporting their child’s education, college applications, and scholarship applications.

Coleman’s research brings together electronics for medical use, machine learning and public health. His research group develops multi-functional, flexible bio-electronics and quantitative analysis methods to help patients and clinicians make better decisions to improve health outcomes.  An avid public health advocate, Coleman understands the value of collaborating with community health programs to truly implement and deliver sustainable innovations to those who need it most.  For example, he is currently involved in a project to use technology to monitor high-risk pregnancies in African American women, who are twice as likely to give birth to stillborn babies or to give birth prematurely.


Media Contacts

Ioana Patringenaru
Jacobs School of Engineering

Brittanie Collinsworth
UC San Diego Center for Microbiome Innovation