As part of its commitment toward creating a more inclusive work and learning environment, the University of Kentucky College of Medicine has established additional leadership roles in the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. The college is pleased to announce the appointment of Kevin Pearson, PhD, to oversee progress in research as the inaugural director of inclusive research initiatives.  

Dr. Pearson will, among other duties, serve as a liaison for departments and divisions across the college, guide the development of diverse research training initiatives, and work to enhance pipelines for underrepresented students to pursue research careers through University and community engagement.

“I’m honored and fully committed to help coordinate this effort to enhance opportunities for all aspiring researchers,” Dr. Pearson said.

Black, Indigenous and people of color remain underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers. While the research landscape has improved, Dr. Pearson said the relatively low numbers of underrepresented minorities in the classroom and in meetings and conferences across the country show more progress must be made.

UK College of Medicine leadership recognizes the urgency and importance of developing strategies to recruit and retain underrepresented minorities and that effectively addressing these issues means beginning the process early. The UK College of Medicine has prioritized diversity and inclusion as one of its pillars in its five-year strategic plan. Through its transdisciplinary strategy, the college aims to enhance all forms of diversity through education, recruitment, hiring, retention, promotion, and initiatives to provide experiences that ensure inclusive excellence.

The director of inclusive research initiatives will help reach the college’s goals for diversity and inclusion through fostering collaboration among research faculty and staff and reaching out to the community. Responsibilities of this role will include connecting with local schools, collaborating with admissions committees, and facilitating experiential learning opportunities.

Dr. Pearson possesses a proven record of allyship for diversity and inclusion. He received the University’s 2020 Inclusive Excellence Award for implementing successful inclusive practices as faculty in the UK College of Medicine Department of Pharmacology and Nutritional Sciences. He also serves as a mentor for the NIH-funded Interactive Mentoring to Enhance Research Skills grant, as well as career development leader for the UK Center for Appalachian Research in Environmental Sciences.

Because of his conscious effort to include diverse lived experiences in his own lab, he understands how coordinated efforts toward increasing representation can benefit trainees, supervisors, and the science as more researchers from diverse backgrounds join the workforce.

“Dr. Pearson’s experience as an effective mentor and devoted educator makes him an ideal candidate to set the precedent for what this role can become and help accomplish,” said Stephanie White, MD, MS, associate dean for diversity and inclusion.

Dr. Pearson began this role on Nov. 1, 2020, with plans to increase time commitment as programs develop.

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