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Hajim Highlights 0419

April 19, 2021

We are proud to recognize the contributions of, left to right, Delali Attiogbe Attipoe ’03, Shawn Rochester ’97, and Christopher Stewart ’05 MS ’08 PhD as part of our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiative.

Dear members of the Hajim School community,

I encourage all of our faculty, staff, students, prospective students, parents, alumni, and friends to join me for my virtual State of the School Address from 10 to 11 a.m. EDT Wednesday, April 28. Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic during the past year, we have much to celebrate. Exciting new research discoveries. Students persevering despite the pandemic. Outstanding contributions from our alumni. I’ll also talk about some important new initiatives to promote Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and to identify our strategic research priorities.

I will speak for about 30-40 minutes and then answer questions for the remaining time. I sincerely hope you can join me! Please click here to register.


This week we continue our celebration of underrepresented minority faculty members, staff members, and alumni of the Hajim School who serve as outstanding role models. This week we recognize three of our alumni.

Delali Attiogbe Attipoe ’03 is helping to close a critical gap in our understanding of the genomic drivers of disease as chief operating officer of 54Gene. The US and Nigerian based health technology company is building a highly curated, unique biorepository and data source of clinical, phenotypic and genetic information from the world’s most diverse populations in Africa to derive insights that could lead to new treatments and diagnostics. Delali says her decision to pursue biomedical engineering at our University provided her the “phenomenal opportunity to work in various research labs, to do internships, and other programs that helped me understand how to bridge what I was learning in the classroom with actually getting my hands dirty and understanding how things work,” she says. This set in motion experiences that have been career-building stepping stones, each preparing Delali for the next stage of her journey. That journey has included various positions at Merck, Johnson&Johnson, Genentech and Roche, where Delali gained valuable experience in all aspects of creating, manufacturing, marketing, distributing and ensuring access to therapeutics. “I am still growing and learning to this day, because at the end of the day, it’s still all about Meliora: how are we always becoming better,” Delali says. Read more here.

How is that 400 years after slaves first arrived on our shores, more than 40 million Black Americans own only 2 percent of this nation’s wealth? Shawn Rochester ’97 has skillfully answered that by documenting the staggering, pervasive tax driven by conscious and unconscious anti-Black bias that continues to prevent Black Americans from accumulating wealth in proportion to their contributions and population. Shawn, born in Barbados, moved at age 5 to New York City with his mother and older brother for a fresh start. “So, it’s an immigrant’s story, coming to the land of opportunity, starting at the bottom and working your way up,” Shawn says. His mother was fearless and confident “and that rubbed off on me,” he adds. His experiences at the elite Combermere School back in Barbados, and as a chemical engineering undergrad here, provided him a solid springboard to enter engineering, then switch to corporate development and strategic planning before founding Good Steward LLC.  In his book, Black Tax: The Cost of Being Black in America, and in the myriad talks he has given—on Wall Street, at leading universities, and even at the United Nations– Shawn confronts us with a problem we must address. Read more here.

Surveys have found that only about 2% of tenured or tenure-track computer science professors in the US are Black. So, Christopher Stewart ’05 MS ’08 PhD has overcome long odds in becoming an associate professor at Ohio State University. As early as 5th grade he knew he wanted to become a computer programmer. At Morehouse College, the historically Black men’s college, John Foster, chair of computer science, inspired Chris to go into academia. When he was accepted as a PhD student at Rochester’s Department of Computer Science, his advisor Kai Shen and other faculty in the Computer Systems Group – Sandhya Dwarkadas, Chen Ding, and Michael Scottmade him feel welcome as a co-equal. At Ohio State University, Christopher has helped pioneer the modeling of computer operating systems to make data centers more efficient and reduce their carbon footprint. “I believe this journey has been part of God’s plan for my life,” Chris wrote in his PhD dissertation at Rochester. And part of that plan, he says, is to continue to be a role model and mentor. His hope is that eventually computer science becomes a field where African-Americans and other underrepresented minorities will feel welcomed as co-equal contributors—just as he felt at Rochester. Read more here.


Seemingly harmless perceptions of Asian Americans as “foreigners” can be weaponized by racialized statements such as “Chinese virus” or “Wuhan flu.” Beth Olivares, AS&E Dean for Diversity, will host a moderated Zoom discussion with ABC’s Emmy-Award winning co-anchor Juju Chang from 6:30-7:45 p.m. this Wednesday, April 21, to examine this problem. Juju investigates how within weeks of the pandemic outbreak, thousands of acts of racial abuse against Asia Americans and Pacific Islanders were reported. She will help us understand that we all have unconscious bias, how to detect it, and why it matters. Please register using the following Eventbrite link: https://stop-the-hate.eventbrite.com


The Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program offers global research and mobility opportunities to university faculty members across 130 countries. The deadline to apply is September 15, but in the meantime the program is offering live webinars this month highlighting various opportunities. Read more here.


Learn how to research your target salary, highlight your accomplishments, and find the right words—and the confidence—to negotiate for better benefits and pay by attending a salary negotiation workshop from 5 to 7 p.m. EDT, on Tuesday, April 27. This interactive webinar is open to all students. The first 90 minutes will be learning the ins and outs of salary negotiation. The final 30 minutes will be discipline-specific discussions led by Greene Center career experts. Find out more information and register here. You can also listen to an Eastman Institute for Music Leadership podcast about salary negotiations and the gender wage gap.

The Greene Center is actively curating a list of over 400 paid internship opportunities for summer 2021. To find these opportunities in Handshake, use the label #summer2021 when searching. Learn how to use the search function through this video, or drop by with questions during virtual Collaboration Hours, Mondays through Fridays from 1 to 4 p.m. EDT.


The annual University Technology Showcase, to be held virtually from 1-5 p.m. on April 29, is an opportunity for faculty and researchers in optics, imaging and photonics, data science, energy and materials, and biomedical technology to share their work with industry professionals. The showcase, hosted by the Center for Emerging & Innovative Sciences and the Center of Excellence in Data Science, includes guest speakers.  Students and faculty alike are encouraged to participate in a poster session. To present a poster virtually, send the poster title and a brief abstract to ceisweb@ur.rochester.edu. Register for the Showcase here. Contact Paul Ballentine with any questions.

Have a great week!

Your dean,
Wendi Heinzelman

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