As Black History Month comes to an end, we would like to recognize the many achievements and contributions of Black scientists to the field of astrophysics as well as to our society1. We also wish to reflect on how much work remains to be done to make our field equitable and inclusive for Black students and scientists, and for all people of color. Systemic racism is present in every aspect of our culture, and academia is no exception. While important advances have been made, we recognize that the academic and scientific communities, including the NANOGrav collaboration, must commit to doing more to increase opportunities for, and representation of, people of color in its ranks.
NANOGrav is aware that there are many issues and barriers, inside and outside our organization, that disproportionately affect Black students and scientists. Our collaboration and its members are engaged in a number of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts, including but not limited to our Student Team of Astrophysics Researchers (STARS) program, collaboration with high schools and community colleges, participation by some NANOGrav institutions in the APS Bridge Program, and participation in the APS Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity Alliance and the Multi-messenger Diversity Network. NANOGrav is also proud to stand with Black Lives Matter. However, we recognize that much more work must be done to accelerate progress toward true equity in our collaboration and scientific field.
We therefore want to take this opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to building a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive collaboration, and to commit to identifying and implementing policies, strategies, or actions that are especially beneficial to students and scientists who are Black or people of color. NANOGrav will continue to work on these issues going forward, with special emphasis on retention and climate. We are in the process of developing a more comprehensive DEI strategy for the collaboration, and we will seek input from all NANOGrav members and members of the broader astronomical community to ensure that our actions support all of our members and foster inclusivity and equity in all we do.
1 “Such achievements and contributions include but are not limited to those compiled by the American Astronomical Society, American Institute of Physics, and Dr. Kathryn Williamson for the West Virginia University Planetarium.”