How has science historically been influenced by racism?
To what extent has science helped advance racist views?
Is there a biological meaning to race?
What are our responsibilities as researchers with respect to the relationship between science, race, and racism?

Tal Scully, PhD Student studying Systems Biology, Department of Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School and a member of the leadership SCi team, has worked with the Social Issues in Biology group on Race in Biosciences: A Journal Club Series. This series consists of five main journal club modules along with additional action-based modules which grapple with the above questions. Each module comes with assigned readings, a slideshow and a facilitation guide.

The goal of these modules is to provide a space to explore, engage and challenge our current understandings and relationships with Race and Racism in biosciences. We believe this resource will lower the activation energy for groups to host these challenging discussions within their departments. Through these modules, the team hopes to enable a bottom-up cultural shift, empowering individual labs and social groups to engage deeply with their understanding of Race in Biosciences and Academia at large.

About Social Issues in Biology

The Social Issues in Biology (SIIB) journal club at Harvard Medical School (HMS) was founded by a group of graduate students in 2019. The group aims to provide a space for community discussion among students, postdocs and staff of how science impacts society and on how society impacts science.

A black woman's back with a graphic that is reminiscent of a nutrition label on it, with common and harmful stereotypes written on each line.
Labels by Tosin Odugbemi.

SCi designer Tosin Odugbemi’s work is featured as a part of the Black on the Prairies project by The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), a collection of articles, personal essays, images and more, exploring the past, present and future of Black life in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, branded as CBC/Radio-Canada, is the federal Crown public broadcaster for radio and television in Canada.

The images are from Tosin Odugbemi’s Labels series, designed to raise awareness of stereotyping based on skin colour.

Read the analysis piece on the work, titled “Designing while Black: Exploring the evolution of Black Prairie design aesthetic,” on the CBC website.

A technician from Oxitec inspects the pupae of genetically modified Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in Campinas, Brazil.
Photo thanks to Andre Penner.

Through new genetic modification technologies, scientists have been able to reshape nature with an increasing amount of power. Most are familiar with work on modified crops that make farming easier and earn larger profits for corporate developers, but new work has developed promising a “friendly” mosquito.

SCi Co-director Natalie Kofler talks to the LA Times about the need for transparency about why experiments are being done on mosquitos and the ethical impact of the actions.

Read the post, “In California, an army of genetically engineered mosquitoes awaits release. Will it backfire?” by Melody Petersen to learn more.