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Diversity & Inclusion Fellows

The Diversity & Inclusion Fellows are members of the Office of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging.

The Diversity & Inclusion Fellows support the efforts of the Office of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging, help Harvard Griffin GSAS to identify needed areas of support, work with student affinity groups across Harvard Griffin GSAS, and work on projects and initiatives to advance inclusion and belonging on campus. 

Interested in serving as a D&I fellow? Email 

2022–2023 Diversity Fellows

Clare Canavan

I grew up in the DC area and am currently a fifth-year PhD candidate in the chemical biology department, co-advised by Dr. Dan Kahne and Dr. Andrew Kruse; I study enzymes in MRSA that confer antibiotic resistance. In undergrad, I worked with advocacy groups centering on women in STEM, and now I’m one of the co-chairs of our graduate student union’s Feminist Working Group. The work I’ve done to advocate for women and other marginalized students to have strong community, mentorship, and support has introduced me to amazing groups of people pushing to make a safer, more welcoming university space.

Why I am a Diversity and Inclusion Fellow

I think an essential part of being a member of a community is working to make it the best it can be, and centering diversity and inclusion is key to this effort. Providing students with a sense of belonging and safety is of utmost importance, and this requires active work toward understanding and celebrating our intersecting identities. I want to help the EDIB office in its efforts to create community, push for change, and support student groups and leaders that are already doing incredible advocacy work. 

Esrah Du 

I grew up in a small town in northeast Massachusetts. Inspired by a love of microorganisms, I pursued my undergraduate degree in biology at Simmons University. During my time at Simmons, I developed a tight network of support in the LGBTQ+ community both at Simmons and beyond. Supported by this sense of belonging, I pursued undergraduate research experiences that helped cultivate my love for studying the basic biology of parasites and their vectors, which eventually led me to the Biological Sciences in Public Health PhD program at Harvard. I am now a second-year PhD student, jointly advised by Dr. Flaminia Catteruccia and Dr. Jeffrey Dvorin, studying the basic biology of how Plasmodium oocysts successfully grow and divide in the midgut of the Anopheles mosquito. This collaborative environment and the family I've been lucky to find within the Harvard community have reinforced my passion for ensuring that academia continues to grow into an inclusive and diverse place where everyone feels they belong. 

Why I am a Diversity and Inclusion Fellow

I became an LGBTQ-focused diversity and inclusion fellow because I firmly believe that fostering diversity and inclusion should be priorities within the academic community. As a queer and nonbinary individual, I have experienced firsthand how difficult it can be to balance your academic and queer identities, as well as the hardship and sense of isolation that can occur in spaces where your identity is not fully understood or accepted. I have been exceptionally fortunate to find many role models and peers in the LGBTQ community here at Harvard, and I am eager to work with the LGBTQ community at GSAS to better advocate for students’ needs and help ensure that others can find the same sense of belonging. As a diversity and inclusion fellow, I hope to continue building on existing initiatives while pushing the boundaries of how GSAS can support its LGBTQ+ students, including those who may still be questioning their identity. 

Akhil Thomas

I am third-year PhD student in South Asian religion/Comparative studies at the Committee on the Study of Religion. I grew up in Delhi and dearly miss the three-day long train rides to Kerala, on the southwest coast of India, where my family is from. As a first-generation college student, I studied philosophy for my undergraduate degree at St. Stephen's College, Delhi, and worked with various student advocacy groups and nonprofits in the area. I came to the United States to study the relations between religious vision and social reformation at Yale Divinity School (YDS) in New Haven, CT. During my time at YDS, as the President's Public Service Fellow, I served at Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services (IRIS) where I worked with Afghan resettled students and young adults helping set up and run summer schools.

Why I am a Diversity and Inclusion Fellow

I am a diversity and inclusion fellow because I believe that diverse and inclusive spaces, where students feel like they belong, are foundational to academic life at Harvard. I have seen that students from underrepresented and underserved communities bear the heaviest burden in graduate school. My hope is that my work contributes to making space for a shared sense of belonging for students from such communities. I also hope to further EDIB’s mission by working together with affinity groups and student leaders to advocate for more resources and support.

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