Doctoral candidate acknowledged for her dedication to diversity, equity and inclusion

Rachel Morgan

Student Eugene Feingold Excellence in Diversity Award

Rachel Morgan, a fourth-year doctoral candidate, is a leader in creating a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive space within the Department of Environmental Health Sciences and the University of Michigan School of Public Health and beyond.Her dedication to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is expressed in her service on both the departmental and school-wide DEI committees, and her tremendous efforts to coordinate DEI related activities involving students, staff, and faculty members.

Because of her energy and commitment to pursuing DEI initiatives, Morgan was named the Student Eugene Feingold Excellence in Diversity Award winner for 2022.

“Rachel Morgan is a strong, dedicated, and active advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion in our department and in our school,” said Deb Watkins, a research faculty member. “We have no doubt that Rachel is poised to continue to be a leader in the DEI field and in her academic expertise of neurodevelopment and environmental health sciences. Rachel Morgan is well-deserving of the Eugene Feingold Excellence in Diversity Award.”

Morgan first joined the EHS DEI committee in Spring 2020, a tumultuous time of increasing awareness of anti-Black police brutality, horrendous disparities in COVID-19 morbidity and mortality, and pandemic-related extreme isolation and anxiety within the Michigan Public Health community and around the world, Watkins said.

During the difficult summer of 2020, Rachel was new to the DEI committee, but she immediately jumped into a leadership role. She organized a group to discuss racism in science and academia, as well as other relevant topics.

“We have sustained that momentum, and Rachel now leads a monthly departmental ‘community conversation’ on topics that have ranged from Anti-Asian racism to size diversity and inclusion and non-binary inclusion in the workplace,” Watkins said. “Throughout these conversations, Rachel has guided important but difficult discussions with grace, awareness, and empathy.”

Morgan also has specifically geared initiatives toward EHS students. When the committee identified a gap during increased virtual learning, she was a key contributor to increased mentoring options for students. After a pilot year of mentoring for PhD students, the program will be expanded to master's students this fall. 

Morgan also played a key role in a film screening event last fall. Following the screening of the documentary "Picture a Scientist," which features female researchers discussing barriers, harassment, and discrimination, she co-moderated a panel discussion. The event garnered helpful feedback and perspectives.

“Rachel is a true example of leading through her actions,” Watkins said.