Diversity as a foundation for science
NB: Because Ted Gibson's and Ev Fedorenko’s labs (TedLab and EvLab) partially share space, and the members of the two labs interact closely, we wrote this statement jointly and each of us subscribes to these views.
We are committed to fostering a lab culture where everyone feels welcome and respected, and where differences are celebrated and valued.
We are driven by two factors.
- Science should be done by individuals who are good at science. Historically, wealthy white males have had more opportunities and fewer obstacles to pursue academic careers. We want to help change this imbalance by increasing the representation of women, racial and ethnic minorities, and other under-represented groups in linguistics, cognitive science, and neuroscience. We both actively partake in department-level, MIT-level, and nation-wide initiatives to attract such individuals to science. If you identify as belonging to one of these groups and are interested in language, cognitive science, or neuroscience, feel free to reach out to either one of us (Ted: firstname.lastname@example.org; Ev: email@example.com) for advice / guidance, and we will try our best to help.
One of Ted’s former graduate students, now professor at Vanderbilt University—Duane Watson—co-founded the SPARK society: https://www.sparksociety.org, which is a great resource for scientists of color interested in cognitive science.
- Creativity is an important cornerstone of science. We strongly believe that diversity fosters creativity: different perspectives give birth to new ideas and lead to paradigm shifts. As a result, we welcome aspiring scientists regardless of their nationality, ethnicity, gender, or beliefs.
We are proud to be a diverse group of researchers. Current and past lab members come from Canada, Russia, Germany, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, the UK, Israel, Palestine, Iran, Egypt, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Hungary, India, Kashmir, China, Japan, Mexico, and Brazil; some are white, some are Asian, some are Black, some are Latinx, some are a complicated mix; some are US-born, some are visitors, some are immigrants, some are children of immigrants; some speak English as a native language, many don’t; some are monolinguals, some are bilinguals, some are polyglots; some are cis, some are gay, some are bisexual, some are transgender. We differ in many other ways: some come from academic families, some are first-generation college students; some have kids, some have siblings or other family members they are responsible for; some are introverts, some are extroverts; some have mental disorders, some have physical disabilities; some are theater directors, some are lawyers, some are dancers, some are pilots, some are photographers, some are musicians, and some are Olympic athletes. The list goes on. What unites us is our passion for science: specifically, for language and the human mind. We all want to understand how language works in the mind and brain, and how it came to be.