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ChemE IDEA Fund

lightbulb illustrationWith the support of an endowed fund established by a donor in 2020, ChemE students, faculty, and staff are implementing inclusion, diversity, equity and anti-racism (IDEA) initiatives in our community.

Academic Year 2022–2023 Project

Program launch: Peer mentorship for a more-accessible graduate experience

Proposed by Ph.D. student Maria Politi, professor Shachi Mittal, and professor Cole DeForest

The Graduate Mentorship Program aims to create an adaptive and evolving support system for chemical engineering students as they take the demanding initial steps of their graduate journeys. First-year graduate students will engage with more-senior ChemE Ph.D. students early on and learn from their experiences. Monthly group discussions will provide a platform for students to acknowledge, discuss, and address common issues concerning equity, social justice, and experiences faced by graduate students. Trained mentors will also connect students to available campus and departmental resources that can lower barriers to learning or wellbeing and help them address common challenges and roadblocks.

Seminar series: Improving graduate school accessibility

Proposed by graduate students Ava Karanjia and Adam Broerman

The seminar/panel series educates undergraduate students about graduate school as a next career step. This represents one approach to plugging the “leaky pipeline” of STEM majors from underrepresented groups to academic positions. Each seminar consists of short presentations by three current graduate students, followed by a Q&A session. They cover topics related to longer-term grad school preparations (e.g. undergraduate research), crafting a strong application, and others. The series ran in the 2021-22 academic year.

K-12 STEM outreach course: DNA Origami for Drug Delivery Systems

Proposed by Mikey Chungyoun (B.S. ‘21)

The virtual learning environment has both increased the disparity in access to education, as well as hindered the ability to do outreach events for K-12 students. In response, this outreach course, conducted virtually in Spring 2021 at Cleveland High School in Seattle, was developed to reach a diverse student population and prepare participants for higher education through novel STEM projects.

Working with students in bioengineering and in biology, Mikey developed and taught a course that uses paper origami to represent DNA origami drug delivery technology. The approach allowed them to teach sophisticated concepts with ubiquitous materials. They presented the basics of pathology and developing therapies, recreated drug structures in origami, and showed students what lab work looks like at the UW through virtual visits.

Course: Ethics and DEI for Chemical Engineers

Proposed by Madeleine Clarke (B.S. '23), Jordy Jackson (B.S. '22), and Jimmy Ye (B.S. ‘21)

This Ethics and DEI course trains chemical engineers who are ethically responsible and socially aware. The course consists of guest speakers from the UW and other institutions to cover topics including workplace discrimination and implicit bias, along with case studies that highlight medical, environmental, and other ethical issues. A diversity-related course in ChemE bolsters coverage of DEI issues in the College of Engineering curriculum and improve DEI in the field more broadly. The seminar was offered in the Winter 2022 quarter.

How to apply for funding

Any ChemE student, faculty, or staff may propose a project that advances our IDEA work.

Proposals are considered on a rolling basis, and should be submitted at least 3 months before the proposed project state date.

To apply, please prepare:

  • a short description of your project idea
  • a budget, up to $1,000*
  • a timeline
  • the expected impact of the work

Send your proposal to with the subject line "IDEA fund"

* For requests over $500, discuss with the department chair first