Two students lean over DIY projects at a table outside


Increasing persistence in STEM among underrepresented minority students, first-generation college students, and women requires faculty and staff to address students' sense of belonging at the classroom, departmental and institutional levels. Social climate and support networks are critical to student success and persistence in STEM. Through ongoing efforts to cultivate and support student community, Oberlin's Inclusive Excellence initiative seeks to change the ways  STEM curriculum is delivered and the way its community for STEM learning is built.


As a central part of Oberlin HHMI's Inclusive Excellence initiative, the grant funds a position for a STEM graduate hired as STEM Fellow.


The Fellow bridges curricular and co-curricular aspects of the Oberlin education, serving as a role model for current students. In addition, the Fellow works on the Inclusive Excellence grant implementation team, participates in the campus-wide learning communities, and collaborates with the director of the Center for Learning, Education and Research in Sciences to coordinate peer-led instruction and tutoring through the Oberlin Workshop and Learning Sessions (OWLS) and the Quantitative Skills (QS) Center. As part of the role, the Fellow lives in a residence hall and promotes students' professional development through programming, informal networking, and serving as a STEM liaison to other critical campus partners, such as the Multicultural Resource Center, the Office of Undergraduate Research, and the Career Development Center.


To contribute to ongoing climate assessment, the Fellow organizes and leads focus groups and listening sessions with targeted student groups and works to identify ways to increase mentoring and community building between faculty and students. 

Since fall 2017, the Fellow has lived and participated in the residence hall community of the Third World Program House; starting in fall 2020, the Fellow will live and host weekly community-building events in Burton Hall as part of the new Roots in STEM Living Learning Community, which seeks to promote a sense of belonging and community in STEM amongst underrepresented students

Past Fellows include:

Marcus Hill, OC '19, Geology, is the current STEM Fellow for the '20-21 Academic Year. 

Learn more about our team and the individuals who have served as STEM Fellow.


The Center for Learning, Education and Research in the Sciences (CLEAR) was launched in 2012-13 with previous HHMI funding. Core activities of CLEAR include:

  1. A peer-staffed Quantitative Skills (QS) drop-in center that provides academic support for students in STEM courses;

  2. A course-specific peer-mentoring program (Oberlin Workshop and Learning Sessions - OWLS) serving approximately 20 courses per year, with an emphasis on introductory-level offerings; and

  3. Faculty-development workshops and competitive curriculum-development grants to strengthen quantitative and interdisciplinary learning.


Both the QS and OWLS programs are highly regarded by students and faculty, and student development is a central focus for CLEAR. Spearheaded by CLEAR, the HHMI Inclusive Excellence initiative has co-sponsored a number of student community-building activities, including:

  1. Affinity group meetings for queer and trans students, Black and Latinx students, disabled students, student athletes, and women in STEM during spring 2018, fall 2018 and spring 2019

  2. Meetings for the student representatives of all STEM majors during fall 2018 and spring 2019

  3. A campus visit and inclusive pedagogy workshop by Dr. Sehoya Cotner for OWLS and QS Center tutors

  4. A Roadmap to Research event during fall 2018 in collaboration with the Office of Undergraduate Research and the Office of Fellowships and Awards

  5. Two professional development workshops on facilitation skills for student leaders held during spring 2019 and fall 2019


The Student Leadership Committee was formed in spring 2020 in an effort to center student voices in the development and implementation of the HHMI Inclusive Excellence grant initiatives at Oberlin. The committee is comprised of six student leaders of diverse backgrounds dedicated to improving the equity and inclusion of STEM at Oberlin.


Learn more about the Student Leadership Committee and the students who have been a part of it. 

Prior to the formation of the Student Leadership Committee in spring 2020, the HHMI leadership team collaborated with two informal student advisory boards in spring 2018 and spring 2019, comprised primarily by student volunteers invested in STEM equity. Based on the feedback received from these advisory boards, the HHMI leadership team moved to implement a formal paid position with increased structure to improve the experience of student advisors, thus resulting in the Student Leadership Committee. 

Oberlin College staff celebrate CLEAR's Lab Crawl, an event designed to introduce students to possible research opportunities on campus, in Star Wars-themed costumes. 

Oberlin College biology students in Professor Yolanda Cruz's lab pose outside their lab during Law Crawl. Students volunteer to staff their labs during the event and give short presentations to other students on their research and how to join the lab.

Oberlin College neuroscience students in Associate Professor Gunnar Kwakye's lab pose stand in their lab during Lab Crawl while Professor Kwakye completes experiments behind them.

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