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Three faculty clusters have been identified for support during the first round of applications to the Fannie Gaston-Johansson Faculty of Excellence Program, a Johns Hopkins University initiative designed to increase and promote faculty diversity.
A total of 13 new faculty hires are expected in three areas of interdisciplinary study:
- Mathematical biology, in which computer models of complex biological systems are created to predict the behavior of those systems
- Fluid mechanics across scales, an exploration of critical global challenges, from the spread of viruses via microscopic droplets to the atmospheric and oceanic flows governing climate patterns and the production of wind and wave energy
- The Center for Africana Studies, bringing together scholars whose studies of Africa, the U.S., the Caribbean, and Europe broaden our general understanding of Black intellectual life, social movements, and politics
These clusters were selected from a group of nine submitted proposals by the Fannie Gaston-Johansson Faculty of Excellence Program Selection Committee as well as JHU President Ron Daniels and Provost Sunil Kumar.
"The Fannie Gaston-Johansson Faculty of Excellence Program leans on some of our thoughtful commitments in the university's Second Roadmap on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion to continue our march toward a faculty characterized by inclusive excellence," said Ralph Etienne-Cummings, vice provost for faculty affairs. "These clusters will comprise diverse, interdisciplinary, and cross-divisional scholars who are nurtured by our collaborative research ecosystem to produce results at the very top of their respective fields. We are looking forward to bringing them to JHU."
The Fannie Gaston-Johansson Faculty of Excellence Program, formerly the Target of Opportunity Program, has been instrumental in helping Johns Hopkins increase faculty diversity since it was established in 2015 as part of the Faculty Diversity Initiative, resulting in the recruitment of 35 tenure-track faculty to the university over a six-year period. Overall, underrepresented minority representation on JHU's faculty increased from 8% in 2015 to 10% in 2019.
The program is named in honor of Fannie Gaston-Johansson, an internationally renowned educator and nurse researcher who joined the Hopkins Nursing faculty in 1993 and later became the first Black woman to be named a tenured professor at Johns Hopkins. A dedication event celebrating Gaston-Johansson's remarkable career and achievements is planned for Wednesday, Nov. 16, at the School of Nursing.
This new phase of the program—part of a $50 million investment that focuses on the recruitment, retention, and advancement of faculty who demonstrate a commitment to diversity and inclusive excellence as part of JHU's Second Roadmap on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion—will ultimately bring an additional 30 diverse scholars to Johns Hopkins. The program will concentrate on areas where diversity among faculty has lagged, with an emphasis on recruiting scholars in science, technology, engineering, and math fields.
A second call for proposals is planned for later this fall, with a March 1 application deadline.
"Hopkins meaningfully increased the diversity of its faculty as a result of the first Roadmap—that $25M investment gave the institution the opportunity to identify talented individuals who have added significantly to our academic mission," said Katrina Caldwell, chief diversity officer and vice provost for diversity and inclusion. "With the second Roadmap, the university has doubled its investment in the program and embraced cluster hiring, which research has shown is an effective strategy for recruiting a diverse faculty and increasing opportunities for networking and collaboration."
More on the faculty clusters:
Excellence in Mathematical Biology
In mathematical biology, computational models of complex biological systems are built in order to better understand and predict the behavior of these systems. This discipline has helped transform biology and physiology into quantitative sciences, uniquely enabling computational predictions to design the next experiment, therapeutic, or biomarker. The excellence of Johns Hopkins investigators in mathematics, biology, medicine, and computational biology provides a rich environment in which mathematical biology can thrive. Targeted scholars would help connect the work of practitioners in various departments across four schools—the Whiting School of Engineering, the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, the Bloomberg School of Public Health, and the School of Medicine—and diversify faculty who work at this intersection of life sciences and mathematics.
Fluid Mechanics Across Scales
Fluid mechanics researchers at Johns Hopkins are already at the forefront of efforts to meet global challenges, from the spread of viruses via microscopic droplets to the atmospheric and oceanic flows governing climate patterns and the production of wind and wave energy. The fluid mechanics cluster will enhance an area of current strength for the university that is set to have major impacts on global health, climate, materials, energy, space exploration, and supersonic flight.
The senior researchers identified for recruitment to this cluster were selected to bridge subfields and thus will not only help maintain JHUs preeminence in the global fluid mechanics community, but further bolster ties across departments and schools as well as bolster the university's Center for Environment and Applied Fluid Mechanics and the Ralph O'Connor Sustainable Energy Institute.
The Center for Africana Studies
African diasporic life and politics represents a crucial new area of study in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences under the direction of Makalani, who joined Johns Hopkins to lead the Center of Africana Studies in the summer of 2021. A cluster of new faculty would bring together scholars whose expertise in Africa, the U.S., the Caribbean, and/or Europe broaden our general understanding of Black intellectual life, social movements, and politics.
These faculty would be unique in that they will be primarily situated within the center rather than in another academic department. Their addition is seen as a key step toward making African/Black studies a standalone academic department at Johns Hopkins.
"It does really reorient how one does their work," Makalani said.
"We are attempting to transform how scholarship or how knowledge is produced. We are asking what this moment requires of us in terms of the work we produce, the kinds of questions we ask, and then how we go about answering those questions."
Roland J. Thorpe Jr., assistant vice provost for faculty diversity, added: "The Fannie Gaston-Johansson Faculty of Excellence Program provides an ideal opportunity to recruit and retain faculty from diverse backgrounds in key areas of research around the university. I look forward to working with the cluster leads as we further diversify the faculty."