UCSF

Díaz honored with Edison T. Uno Award for Public Service

Roberto Efraín Díaz, PhD candidate in the UCSF Tetrad program with a focus on biochemistry and molecular biology, was recently awarded the 2022 Edison T. Uno Award for his development of the Diversity Network Initiative. Launched in 2018, this initiative connects current and prospective UCSF students from similar backgrounds to build community and promote diversity and inclusion at UCSF.

The Edison T. Uno Award is one of UCSF’s Founder Day Awards, given annually in recognition of exemplary individuals who contribute to the university’s excellence.

Roberto is a fifth-year graduate student in the lab of BTS faculty member Jaime Fraser, PhD. Growing up, there was a lack of representation among Roberto’s mentors. Shortly after joining UCSF, he co-founded the Diversity Network Initiative to give incoming students an opportunity to network with relatable peers. The initiative now supports students from seven basic science graduate programs. Roberto remains committed to improving the initiative and ensuring a safe and supportive environment for marginalized students.

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(Gentle music.) Not enough people who deserve to do science make it as far as they should and for me, that’s something that I think is a incredible shame and that needs to be fixed. That’s why I think that mentoring and building opportunities for people, regardless of where they come from and regardless of where they want to go is critical.

My name is Roberto Efrain Diaz. I’m a fifth year graduate student here at UCSF in the TETRAD program, with a focus in biochemistry and molecular biology. I didn’t have mentors that looked like me or that identified as I did growing up, whether it was in high school or in college, and so that was something that was very much at the forefront of my mind is the lack of representation.

So, shortly after I arrived at UCSF I had an idea. What if we took current students at UCSF from marginalized backgrounds, with perspective students from the same background and provide an opportunity for them to share about their experiences, get a sense is UCSF a good place to be Latinx, to be queer, first gen, any other marginalized identity, and they get an opportunity to not only meet someone who could become a friend or a mentor should they come here, and really help foster a network of belonging and connectedness, and that turned into the Diversity Network Initiative.

We then highlighted in one graduate program our first year and since then has expanded to additional seven programs. I think about how that work interfaces with disability, with race, with socioeconomic status and how, when resources are poured into supporting students, that experience marginalization and we create environments that are safe for them, everyone benefits.

And the way that I show up to science and to research is thinking not just about what I do in the lab, but what does that mean beyond? And so service for me has always just been trying to improve the environment for not only myself, but for other people who are there with me and for the people who are going to come after me. (Gentle music.)

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About the School: The UCSF School of Pharmacy aims to solve the most pressing health care problems and strives to ensure that each patient receives the safest, most effective treatments. Our discoveries seed the development of novel therapies, and our researchers consistently lead the nation in NIH funding. The School’s doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) degree program, with its unique emphasis on scientific thinking, prepares students to be critical thinkers and leaders in their field.