Vice Provost for Academic Diversity Named

Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Anderson Smith announced that biomedical engineering Professor Gilda Barabino will serve as Tech's first vice provost for Academic Diversity (VPAD).

Barabino will serve on the president's cabinet, and will assess, define and direct the Institute's growing diversity efforts, increasing the recruitment and retention of underrepresented populations in both the student body and faculty.

"A major challenge to academic diversity-one that is not unique to Tech-is transforming the culture and environment to one where diversity is infused throughout all aspects of teaching, learning, research and service," Barabino said.

With oversight of the Office of Minority Educational Development Services (OMED), the Center for Women in Science and Technology (WST) and Tech's FOCUS and ADVANCE programs, Barabino will spearhead the strategic development of Institute efforts to increase diversity in the Institute's established mission of research, education and service. FOCUS recruits under-represented groups into graduate school, and the National Science Foundation (NSF) ADVANCE initiative works to increase the representation of women in academic careers.

Barabino is a professor and associate chair for Graduate Studies in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University. Her lab research focuses on vascular biology and tissue engineering, specifically sickle cell disease, cartilage tissue engineering and bioreactors. She earned her doctorate from Rice University in 1986 and her bachelor of science from Xavier University in 1978. In 2007 she was named a fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering.

She arrived at Tech in June 2007 after 18 years at Northeastern University, where she was a full professor and served as vice provost for Undergraduate Education.

During a sabbatical at Tech's Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience (IBB) in 2003-2004, Barabino initiated a project with West Georgia University psychology professor Kareen Malone and Tech's Director of Learning Sciences Research Wendy Newstetter to study gender and race in a laboratory setting-specifically, the labs within BME and IBB. "Our work is ongoing and expanding," Barabino said.

"Most recently, Kareen and I completed a study focusing on the experiences of minority women in STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] fields, and how these experiences will impact identity formation as a scientist." Barabino says she expects the study will be published this year in the journal Science Education.

In addition, Barabino is principal investigator on the ADVANCE study "Cross-Disciplinary Initiative for Minority Women Faculty." The three-year initiative, begun in 2007, engages in research-grounded activities to enhance socialization of tenure-track minority women in engineering, while also providing professional development opportunities for participants. Public Policy Associate Professor Cheryl Leggon is co-principal investigator.

"This [initiative] is in keeping with my career-long interests and efforts related to academic diversity, and is reflective of my approach to all areas of my work-research, teaching and service-which is research- and data-driven and interdisciplinary in nature," Barabino said.

In recent years, several institutions such as Duke University, Columbia University and the University of California, San Francisco, have established provost-level positions relating to academic diversity.

"I am very pleased that Gilda agreed to accept this appointment," Smith said. "I think she has the necessary talent and skill for the job. She shows great enthusiasm and excitement about this initiative to make Georgia Tech a leader in academic diversity."