Dr. Angela Byars-Winston is
studying the impact of the crucial
relationship on racial and ethnic
diversity in STEM fields.
Dr. Angela Byars-Winston Is First Black
Full Professor at UW Medicine
Probably the most important development in Byars-Winston’s career is her appointment to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering
“That was founded by Abraham Lincoln to be the non-partisan consulting body to Congress for all things related to STEM,” Byars-Winston said.
“I am leading an initiative that is called the Board on Higher Education and Workforce. Betsy DeVos was our invited guest for our October
meeting. We work with LaMar Alexander. Our board consults on anything related to education and the workforce. And that includes the cabinet
people in the White House.”
This membership places Byars-Winston in a place where she can impact federal policy in medicine to ensure that STEM education and how it
is provided is conducive to the growth and development of scientists of color.
“It’s been really exciting,” Byars-Winston said. “I’m part of the conversation and I am able to bring the scholarship and the evidence about
what we know when we talk about diversifying science. What do we know from the evidence? Then we’ll have an opinion. It’s kind of like the
weather. Everyone has a feel for what it is. But what is the actual data? Do we go to the actual meteorologist and ask the question of what the
temperature is? I’m excited because that gives me the opportunity to take my research to the national level, where the reports that are put out
go to Congress. And so, I’m excited. I’ve been in Washington, D.C. a lot. I often get to sit next to Senator Tammy Baldwin. She has a new
initiative that actually is being run through my board, the National Academy, called The Next Generation Research Initiative. To her credit, she
got a bi-partisan bill pushed through in 2015 that will look at building the infrastructure for future researchers in this country. Right now, it is
pretty dire in terms of getting grants that fund these research projects. I’m excited because that National Academy board is a policy consulting
board. So when I think about now that now that I’ve done and continue to do a lot of the research, we have the evidence that is now going to
this national platform, the next conversation is, ‘How do we move that policy?’ Where Congress places the priority, the federal dollars flow.”
Someday, there will be no disparities in the graduate school and professional STEM ranks. And some student somewhere will have Dr. Angela
Byars-Winston’s pioneering research to thank for enabling the conditions for their success.
By Jonathan Gramling
Diversity in the workplace rarely happens on its own. Most often, there must be a conscious effort to
diversify a workplace using scientific methods overtly or covertly — analyzing the problem, collecting
data, making a hypothesis and implementing the solution — in order for the change to occur.
And nowhere is that more important than in fields and industries that rely upon STEM — science,
technology, engineering and math — as our society depends more and more on STEM-trained individuals
to solve complex problems facing society. And in a nation that is changing demographically, increasingly,
it will need to rely upon more people of color entering the STEM fields to succeed in the global economy.
Dr. Angela Byars-Winston, the first African American to become a tenure-track, full professor in the UW-
Madison Department of Medicine, is on the cutting edge of efforts to bring more students of color into
STEM fields and have them succeed within the field.
Byars-Winston has been working in the area since 1996 and her work is now getting noticed. She is
frequently asked to give presentations and keynotes at national and international conventions. She has
been elected a fellow of the American Psychological Association. She has been a visiting professor at the
University of Pretoria, South Africa since 2014.
“I’m excited because I’m in a place now where when I am in different science forums, they say, ‘We heard
about your work. I know your work,’” Byars-Winston said.