Danielle Meyer is a graduate student in chemical and biomolecular engineering who is advised by Christopher Rao. Their research group investigates cell physiology via genetic engineering and mathematical modeling.
Why did you choose ChBE for graduate school?
I liked the stipend as well as the focus on accessibility and healthcare.
What is your favorite part about graduate school, so far?
Having the support to make my work accessible and to let me define how to best achieve success.
What has been a highlight of your time at UIUC?
Going up to Chicago with one of my close friends at the start of pride weekend to see the Try Guys.
What does diversity, equity, and inclusion mean to you?
DEI success means that students from excluded communities no longer have to specifically advocate for access and having needs met - that they will be provided without extra effort on our part and that our competencies will be respected.
Why do you believe having a diverse environment for graduate school is important?
Having taken classes in other, more homogenous engineering departments, the lack of diversity is clearly reflected in gaps in design and failing to consider the needs of excluded communities. When engineering is not done in a way to include, it at best fails to address the whole picture and at worst exacerbates current problems. Having diversity in engineering is the only way to address these issues.
What are some DEI initiatives that you take part in on/off campus?
I have served as the president of one of our LGBTQ+ student groups as well as a cofounder and president of Academic Women In STEM and as a board member on a number of disability-related student groups and have contributed to efforts to start the disability culture house.
Tell us about a time you have advocated for DEI on campus?
As a leader of one of our queer student groups, I have organized and led a number of seminars and workshops on the basics of what being trans is, what trans campus members experience, and how allies can best affect change in their positions to address the previous and ongoing challenges that we face ranging from pronouns and names on diplomas and at graduation to how best to proactively include us without forcibly outing or placing a target on trans students.