The James Lab at University of Michigan is dedicated to increasing diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice (DEIJ) in our research group and communities. As mycophiles, we wish everyone were able to pursue their passion for science and love for fungi. However, there is clear and alarming underrepresentation in our field, especially of Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color (BIPOC). We recognize that both historical and contemporary forces such as white supremacy, sexism, and xenophobia serve as unacceptable obstacles to peoples’ right to equitable access to the University of Michigan and mycology in general. When marginalized individuals access these spaces, overt and covert discrimination, microaggressions, and implicit biases diminish their wellbeing and success. Far too often the necessary and challenging work of increasing equity falls on the shoulders of those who are victims of oppression, creating a burden that is underrecognized, undercompensated, and occupies time and energy that unaffected colleagues are able to use on science and other career advancements. Members of the James Lab commit to advocating for policies and practices at the department and university level that increase the equitable access to scientific advancement, working to reduce or eliminate policies that lead to discrimination and unequal representation of groups, and interrogating our own biases and behaviors to best promote a safe and equitable space for all. Advocating for policy change and deconstructing internalized biases and racist thoughts and actions is a lifelong process. We know that we will inevitably make mistakes along the way but we commit to holding ourselves and each other accountable to our stated values and to welcome feedback with open hearts, open ears, and gratitude.

The following are principles and goals that we as a group hold as fundamental to increasing justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion in our research group and communities. We will review this list annually, or on an as-needed basis, and develop concrete actions to accomplish during the year in the spirit of these principles:

  1. Have honest conversations calling out our microaggressions. a. We expect lab members not targeted by the microaggressive comment/action to take the lead in intervening and engaging the perpetrator in this conversation. To learn to do this effectively, we will participate in bystander intervention training. b. In these conversations, we will prioritize our learning and leave our egos behind. We will not attempt to re-center the conversation around our feelings by defending our intentions. Instead, we will listen to the effective outcome of our behaviors (i.e. “impact vs. intent”). c. Utilize the Re-AACT framework to develop a heartfelt and thoughtful apology with the understanding that growth requires learning; as much as we defend ourselves to prove that we have “made it” or that we did nothing wrong because we did not intend harm, we are neglecting opportunities for growth as better community members: 1) reflect, 2) acknowledge, 3) apologize, 4) change your behavior, and 5) thank the person for the lesson.
  2. Have regular, informed discussions centered around promoting justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion in mycology and the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB) Department at University of Michigan, including reading scholarship, inviting and compensating speakers who are experts in this work, and actively supporting and engaging with the science of underrepresented researchers.
  3. Each year collectively read a well-regarded book as a lab to increase our racial stamina, practice having cross-cultural dialogues, and build a common vocabulary, as well as dedicate at least one lab meeting per semester to DEIJ skill building.
  4. Actively highlight mycologists of color in our teaching and lab meetings.
  5. Acquire funding and pledge to financially support entry-level research positions for all individuals, including BIPOC and other minoritized/marginalized individuals, in our group and train ourselves to be effective mentors to reduce discrimination and inequity at the very beginning of an individual’s research trajectory.
  6. Monitor, discuss, and respond to threats to the safety of BIPOC, women, LGBTQ+ people, and others and their intersectional identities when conducting fieldwork and benchwork, and come up with safety nets and policies that can decrease potential harm.
  7. Advocate for valuing equity work in hiring and promotions in the EEB department, consistent with the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the mission of the college of Literature, Science, and the Arts (LSA) along with research and teaching.
  8. Work to include antiracist/anti-discriminatory education in the prelim process (e.g. history of one’s scientific field; evidence for prevalence and effects of racism in science, academia, and environmentalism; decolonizing our research and syllabi), again, consistent with the mission of the college of LSA.

Alden Dirks
Kevin Amses
Rebecca Clemons
Tim James
Jillian Myers
William Argiroff
D. Rabern Simmons
Annie Bonds
Gustavo Jeronimo
Kensuke Seto
Nicholas Medina
Rob Powers

Sept. 18, 2020