It’s a boost for young science — and a boon for diversity.
Dr. Athea Vichas and Vasundhara Sridharan have received the inaugural Hutch United fellowships, an initiative to back underrepresented researchers and bolster the retention and recruitment of lab talent at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
Each recipient said the fellowships — which provide $100,000 in annual direct costs — would advance their science and elevate Fred Hutch’s stature as a highly inclusive organization.
“Earning it is an incredible honor,” said Vichas, a postdoctoral fellow in the Moens Lab, where researchers study development of the vertebrate brain, including genes involved in cancer progression.
“The presence of Hutch United speaks to the priorities the center has placed to allow underrepresented groups within the STEM field to not only feel included and welcome but also supported,” Vichas said.
The advancement of biomedical research, Vichas said, requires a diverse and collaborative environment that encourages scientists to investigate, question and learn. As an undergraduate student at the University of Oregon, Vichas co-led workshops through the school’s LGBT center and spoke on community panels “to share my personal experience as an out lesbian,” she said. Vichas also volunteers on the Hutch United Mentoring Network committee.
“Fostering really great mentoring is going to be key to retention and recruitment of these students,” Vichas said. “Right now, without that, you can easily walk into a STEM field and look around a room and not see anybody who is like you.”