A group of gears interlocking showing a community coming together

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Community

Our DEIC committee meets twice each month to discuss issues and actions needed at the departmental level. We're focused on making Duke MEMS a more inclusive and diverse place for faculty, staff and students

The committee, in turn, reports through Pratt School of Engineering's Committee on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Community to draw out a list of action items and works on them throughout the year.

The MEMS DEIC, listed below, comprises representatives of faculty, staff, and graduate and undergraduate students.

Our Working Groups

Duke MEMS DEIC Committee

You're invited to reach out to anyone listed below with ideas, comments, suggestions. Let them know you'd like to work on a project!


Becky Simmons

Becky Simmons, Chair

Professor of the Practice

"Undergraduate mindset, health & wellness, and growth is very important to me. It is essential that we create a space and experiences where students feel supported, safe, welcomed and have the confidence to work towards their best selves. I want students to feel proud of the different experiences, points of reference and diversity they provide and seek out in others diversity of thought, living and being."

Olivier Delaire headshot

Olivier Delaire

Associate Professor

"Working together with our students, staff and faculty members to build a welcoming environment and thriving community is very rewarding. Across our wonderful Duke campus, we all have a shared passion and curiosity - we are curious to learn from each other, and seek to help one another. Through the MEMS DEIC committee, I am excited to engage with all members of our diverse community. I look forward to meeting you and working toward our shared goals."

Stefan Zauscher

Stefan Zauscher


"I felt that I can contribute to creating an inclusive environment in the department, particularly by addressing issues of equity, by helping to bring resources to the committee due to my experience with the Teaching for Equity Fellows program. The DEIC Committee in MEMS provides a learning experience to stay informed and to learn more about DEIC in the academic environment, as well as in the community."


Patrick McGuire

Patrick McGuire

Senior Lab Administrator

"I am excited for the opportunity to lend my voice and support to the MEMS DEIC committee. My current role as a staff member on the teaching side of the department involves interacting with our students and faculty.  I will strive to use this as an opportunity to assess and implement positive changes among all MEMS stakeholders. The department will only get stronger if we can become more aware of our shared community and strive to make improvements promoting diversity, equity and inclusion."


Jamal Michel

Jamal Michel

Communications Specialist

"What I'm most excited about in joining the DEIC committee is working alongside the amazing researchers, students and staff at Duke who are also advocating for equitable standards in our community. The spirit of collaboration here is what inspires me most, and it makes me even more hopeful for future students looking for an inclusive and welcoming space to pursue their passions in the field."


Graduate Students

Concetta Morino

Concetta Morino

PhD Student

"Being on DEIC is important to me because not only do I want to learn what events have led to the lack of diversity in my field but also be a part of changing departmental structure and policies contributing to these barriers."

Luisa Piccolo Serafim

Luisa Piccolo Serafim

PhD Student

"One of the things that most surprised me when I arrived at Duke was the university's awareness regarding building a more inclusive and supportive community. As a member of the MEMS DEIC Committee, I want to take part in this process and work closely with the Pratt School of Engineering members to implement the benefits that an inclusive, multicultural and diverse group can provide for its members, both personally and professionally."

Prajakta Prabhune headshot

Prajakta Prabhune

PhD Student

“My experiences have instilled in me a profound realization – that our perspectives, opinions, and capabilities are shaped by our unique journeys. Then, how do we promote equity in such diversity? By creating space for differences to co-exist; by not assessing everyone with the same ruler; the approach of one-size-fits-all falls short. By tailoring resources according to individual needs and contextual understanding of one’s circumstances, acknowledging that the path to success or failure is personal and unique. To me, understanding Diversity, striving for Equity, and facilitating Inclusion is a sign of a matured Community. I am thrilled to be part of this initiative at Duke MEMS.”

Undergraduate Students

Jack Dugoni

Jack Dugoni

Mechanical Engineering Major, Sophomore

"My interest in joining the MEMS DEIC Committee stemmed originally from my respect for Dr. Rebecca Simmons, the person who advocated for the group via email. I found that the Committee's mission to support all MEMS students, regardless of backgrounds or identity expressions, is one that matches my interest in promoting inclusivity within the groups of which I am a part, especially a historically homogeneous field like engineering. I look forward to the conversations that will surely follow with like-minded individuals who also bring varying perspectives to the table."

Swetha Sekhar

Swetha Sekhar

Mechanical Engineering Major, Sophomore

"Being a member of DEIC is my first real experience as part of a DEI initiative or as a student representative. DEI has always been important to me, especially with my own experiences as a minority woman in STEM, so I'm really looking forward to being in MEMS DEIC with other like-minded engineers to be able to make a difference for the MEMS community."

Kylie Gancos headshot

Kylie Gancos

Biomedical and Mechanical Engineering Majors, Freshman

"Even though MEMs DEI is my first experience as an undergraduate committee representative, I aspire to promote an environment of inclusivity within the engineering community stemming from my personal experiences as a woman in STEM. With this amazing opportunity, I hope to learn about the systematic challenges embedded in the engineering community to create an academic environment that recognizes the perspectives of all students!"

Student Affinity Groups

Duke Engineering Graduate Ambassadors (EGA)

Its mission is to increase awareness and access to applied science and engineering graduate programs. They focus on juniors, seniors and recent STEM graduates who may be less familiar with graduate school opportunities, particularly with underserved communities.

Interested in becoming a mentee? Use the following link to get in touch. 

National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE)

Its mission is to increase the number of culturally responsible Black Engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally, and positively impact the community.

Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE)

Its mission is to change lives by empowering the Hispanic community to realize its fullest potential and to impact the world through STEM awareness, access, support and development.

Society of Women Engineers (SWE)

Its mission is to empower women to achieve full potential in careers as engineers and leaders, expand the image of the engineering and technology professions as a positive force in improving the quality of life, and demonstrate the value of diversity and inclusion.

Females Excelling More in Math, Engineering & Science (FEMMES)

Girls Engineering Change

Runway of Dreams at Duke

Recent News

David Quarles headshot

DEIC Spotlight #2 with David Quarles

In the second audio spotlight for MEMS DEIC, Becky Simmons, Professor of the Practice and Chair of the MEMS DEIC Committee, sat down with the president of the National Society of Black Engineer's chapter at Duke to talk about the impact of NSBE in the community. 



Campus photo of NSBE group members outside of the chapel

Working to Uplift Underrepresented Student Voices in Engineering 

The National Society of Black Engineers at Duke continues to promote principles of equity and collaboration between researchers across the industry who come from underrepresented communities.


Read More News Here

Rate of Change Podcast Episode

When Becky Simmons first got to Duke in the 1990s, she wouldn’t have guessed it then, but a future awaited her that included graduate school, a husband, two daughters, professorship and ties that would bind them all to Duke for decades. Listen to Pratt's latest episode of their podcast from Rate of Change.



Graduate student working on lab

DEIC Spotlight #1 with Luisa Piccolo Serafim

In the first audio spotlight for MEMS DEIC, Becky Simmons, Professor of the Practice and Chair of the MEMS DEIC Committee, sat down with graduate student Luisa Piccolo Serafim to talk about her recent successes, as well as life as a graduate student in MEMS. 



Graduate Leadership Award

Luisa Piccolo Serafim

Congratulations to graduate student Luisa Piccolo Serafim on being recognized with the Duke MEMS Graduate Leadership Award for 2022-2023!

She has been an outstanding member on our Duke MEMS DEIC committee and leader of the GRAMS mentorship program!



Women’s Lunch with Whasil Lee

Students at Duke University sit around a conference table

In May 2023, a group of senior undergraduates, graduate students and post-docs enjoyed a fantastic conversation with biomedical engineering researcher and Duke MEMS graduate Whasil Lee. 

She earned her PhD at Duke in 2011, advised by Piotr Marszalek and Vann Bennett.

Today, she is an assistant professor of Biomedical Engineering and Pharmacology & Physiology at the University of Rochester.

During the lunch, she shared about her research and factors contributing to her career development and lifestyle.



GRAMS in MEMS has now been expanded into EGA

Duke EGA logo
Those interested in taking advantage of mentorship in the EGA are encouraged to complete this form

Find out more about Duke EGA »

Our mission: Increase awareness and access to applied science and engineering graduate programs; Focus on juniors, seniors, and recent STEM graduates who may be less familiar with graduate school opportunities, particularly with underserved communities; and, Mentors provide mentees friendly support in considering graduate school options and preparing application materials.

To find out more, please check the Student Affinity Groups drop-down menu above.

Duke MEMS Book Club

Dune by Frank Herbert

A stunning blend of adventure and mysticism, environmentalism and politics, Dune won the first Nebula Award, shared the Hugo Award, and formed the basis of what many fans consider the grandest epic in science fiction. Request from Duke Libraries

Previously, we read:

  • Chip War: The Fight for the World's Most Critical Technology by Chris Miller
  • The Signal and the Noise: Why Most Predictions Fail - But Some Don't by Nate Silver
  • The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman
  • BUILD: An Unorthodox Guide to Making Things Worth Making by Tony Fadell

K-12 Outreach: Let There Be Lite

Student uses a thermal-sensing headset to measure the infrared radiation emitted by a Leslie Cube
Measuring infrared radiation emitted by a Leslie Cube

The Light, Infrared and Thermal Energy (LITE) workshop by Po-Chun Hsu's lab group (MEMS) engaged local students from the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics in optics, photonics and materials science. 

“Our goal was to educate and inspire higher educational career paths in the fields of optics and materials science for sustainable energy among ninth- and tenth-graders,” Hsu said.

Read the story »

M.e.e.t.s—Mentorship, Engagement, Extracurricular Teams

students sitting at outdoor table with service dog
Students enjoyed fellowship and a little relaxation with the help of Ollie the therapy dog

Undergraduate students from different years meet informally once a month to get to know one another and to share experiences and insights. Additional informal small groups gather to have fun, build community and support each other.

service dog
Ollie the therapy dog

Reading Period Break with Therapy Dogs, Games & Cake

This gathering was all about supporting, community building, relaxing, and eating during the reading period!

We had many laughs and happy moments as we met Ollie (a very cute therapy dog), made origami animals, played games, and ate cake

We're Listening To ...

Social Science Bites

“Sociology and psychology experts dialogue on a range of socially significant topics, covering areas such as the workplace, stigma, implicit bias, and the important relation of these topics to one another. A particularly noteworthy episode, "Discrimination and Design," features Swiss behavioral scientist Iris Bohnet and covers the presence of gender bias and subconscious discrimination in the hiring process and workplace at large. Those interested in learning more about developing DEI skills and perspectives will benefit greatly from listening." 

Jack Dugoni '24 | Duke MEMS undergraduate

Listen to the podcast »

"Differences are not intended to separate, to alienate. We are different precisely in order to realize our need of one another."

Desmond Tutu | No Future Without Forgiveness (2000)