Salk Culture

Salk Institute for Biological Studies - DIVERSITY, EQUITY & INCLUSION - Salk Culture

Salk Culture

Jonas Salk believed that if we worked together to nourish everyone’s talents, society would thrive. An inclusive culture fosters free exploration in research and scientific approaches and a collaborative, harmonious working environment. At Salk, we create inclusive cultures and foster a sense of belonging on campus through our shared values: integrity, community, accountability, respect, and empowerment. The Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion team provides leadership and support, and collaborates with faculty, trainees, and staff to advance these efforts.

Inclusion creates an environment that appreciates and allows the expression of individual perspectives, backgrounds, and talents. When teams are intentionally inclusive, individuals collaborate and learn from each other, and organizations are more productive.
Belonging is feeling secure and supported when there is a sense of acceptance, connection, and identity for a member of a certain group. Numerous studies have shown that a positive sense of belonging is associated with greater academic achievement, positive social relationships, improved mental and physical health, and success at work.

Advisory Council on Diversity

Established in 2020, the Advisory Council on Diversity supports Salk’s diversity, equity, and inclusion strategy by providing critical and regular feedback and recommendations to members of the Salk community. The group’s meetings are open to the Salk community and serve as a platform where anyone from the Salk community can discuss challenges and propose opportunities related to diversity, equity, and inclusion at the Institute.

Affinity Groups

Salk supports affinity groups as a resource for trainees and employees. The Diversity, Equity & Inclusion team is actively invested in the success of our affinity group network, which launched in 2020. These groups aim to enhance employee well-being, strengthen Salk culture, and offer a platform for advocating for the interests of a particular group as a means of enhancing inclusion and belonging at the Institute.

Breaking Through Barriers

Breaking Through Barriers is a speaker series held several times each year at Salk Institute for our employees. This series recognizes that while individuals of varying historically marginalized identities have made significant progress in academia and in the STEM workforce, barriers still exist. The series identifies relatable speakers who are open to sharing the challenges and successes of their personal and/or professional journeys with the Salk community to educate audience members about barriers that continue to impact individuals who are members of underrepresented groups in STEM.

Engagement and Wellbeing

The Salk Engagement and Wellbeing initiative aims to increase meaningful interactions across the Salk community. A network of ambassadors identifies and champions a broad range of opportunities to bring together members of our scientific population and those who support research through their operational expertise.


Our programs connect mentors and mentees with professional development opportunities and an enhanced support network. Postdoctoral mentees have the opportunity to develop new skills, approaches, networks, and greater confidence as they prepare to take the next step in their careers. We also offer Entering Mentoring, an evidence and cohort-based, interactive mentorship training seminar developed by the Center for the Improvement of Mentored Experiences in Research. The Entering Mentoring curriculum is based on research conducted at the University of Wisconsin and funded by the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, and Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Its goal is to provide faculty, trainees, graduate students, and scientific staff with support and techniques for effective, culturally-responsive mentorship. Additionally, in 2021 the DEI team and Postdoctoral Office launched the Salk’s Alumni Mentoring Program which will continue thanks to a broad and diverse pool of mentors who are Institute alumni.

Salk Discussion Circle

The Discussion Circle is a quarterly event where interested members of the Salk community come together, select materials, and share ideas and opinions in a space free of judgment. The books and films discussed span a variety of genres, all connected by the common thread of encouraging thoughtful consideration of diverse subjects and themes.

Science and Justice

This public series is a platform for audiences to learn about connections between Salk’s research and issues related to justice that face communities, our nation, and the world. Speakers engage in moderated discussions, based on their respective areas of expertise, and collaborations that explore how modern scientific understandings can help us achieve equity and justice. Click here for the recording of the inaugural event.

SACNAS Professional Chapter

Salk is among the few independent research institutes that maintain a professional chapter of SACNAS, the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in the Sciences. This group engages and supports membership in the national organization and on a local level raises awareness of barriers and solutions relevant to the success of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans—from early education to professional levels—in STEM. Their goal is to foster networking, advocate for Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans at Salk, build community relationships, and strengthen the pipeline of all underrepresented scientists at every stage of their career.

Society of Research Fellows

The Salk Society of Research Fellows (SRF) is a group of volunteer postdocs and graduate students who work together with Salk faculty and administration to enhance the experience for all trainees at Salk. By increasing opportunities for academic and professional development, engaging in community outreach and programming, and supporting leadership opportunities, SRF strives to create a collegial, motivating, and fun atmosphere for trainees. One of SRF's longstanding initiatives is the Salk Ambassador Program. This program is open to all incoming trainees and is particularly valuable for those coming from other countries and cultures, as it can ease the adjustment to San Diego and to Salk.

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