Stanford University honored several community members and programs for their contributions to enhancing and supporting diversity in the campus community with the 2024 President’s Awards for Excellence Through Diversity.

This year’s recipients include:

● Polly Fordyce, an associate professor of bioengineering and of genetics and a Sarafan ChEM-H Institute Scholar

● Tilly Griffiths, a Master of Arts student in communication, and Ria Calcagno, a co-term Master of Computer Science student (shared award)

● The Science Accelerating Girls’ Engagement (SAGE) Journey Program

The award, established in 2009, is conferred annually to a campus unit, a faculty or staff member, and a student or student organization. President Richard Saller presented the recipients with the awards during a ceremony on Wednesday.

Graduate School of Business student Trey Xavier Dodson III, and the School of Medicine’s Staff Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) Collective Program also received honorable mentions for their work.

The citations honoring Calcagno, Fordyce, Griffiths, and SAGE are posted on the website of the Office of Faculty Development, Diversity, and Engagement.

Ria Calcagno and Tilly Griffiths (shared award)

Calcagno and Griffiths are leading advocates for Stanford’s disabled student community.

Ria Calcagno | Nicole Domingo

Calcagno graduates this year with a BA in political science from the School of Humanities and Sciences while pursuing a master’s degree in computer science from the School of Engineering.

As co-president and later president of Stanford Disability Alliance (SDA), Calcagno built SDA into a vibrant hub of advocacy, support, and empowerment for the disabled community at Stanford.

Calcagno also served as co-chair of the Disability Access and Barriers Study Group, where she helped address institutional barriers to accessibility across the university.

Calcagno collaborated with administrators to address challenges faced by students with disabilities, and her efforts resulted in the creation of a study group and subsequent task force, a comprehensive report outlining actionable university-wide accessibility recommendations, the creation of a new assistant vice provost for accessible education role, and rectification of unjust housing charges to undergraduates with disabilities.

“Her resilience, tenacity, and unwavering commitment to fairness and accessibility have left an indelible mark on campus life, embodying the principles of equity and social justice that are central to Stanford's mission,” her award citation reads. “...Her contributions have not only enriched the Stanford community but have also advanced our collective commitment to creating a more inclusive, equitable, and welcoming campus environment for all.”

Tilly Griffiths | Anhthu Vu Le Photography

Griffiths, BA ’22, is an international graduate student in the School of Humanities and Sciences and will graduate this year with a master’s degree in data journalism.

Through Griffiths’ leadership as director of Disability Advocacy for the Associated Students of Stanford University, resources were secured to pilot the Disability Community Space (DisCo). As its program coordinator, Griffiths helped DisCo become a meaningful space for students with disabilities to express their identity, share lived experiences, and engage in activities.

Griffiths highlighted issues facing the disabled community through her work writing for The Stanford Daily as an undergraduate, and she mentored fellow students with disabilities. As a resident assistant, Griffiths also helped plan accessible and inclusive events for her dorm.

She served as a committee member for the Stanford Disability Initiative, was founder and president of the Stanford Disability Organization Empowering Students, and was co-president of SDA alongside Calcagno. She was also an Implementation Committee Member of DisCo prior to assuming the program coordinator role.

“By being disabled and not only showing up but also succeeding so greatly at the best university in the world, Tilly shows other disabled students it can be done. Done with ambition, grace, and joy,” Griffiths’ citation reads. “Other disabled students will come to Stanford and will thrive at Stanford because of Tilly – and Stanford will be all the better for this diversity.”

Polly Fordyce | BioE Communications Team

Polly Fordyce

Fordyce is an associate professor of bioengineering and of genetics and a Sarafan ChEM-H Institute scholar. Fordyce launched her independent lab at Stanford in 2014 and became director of the Bio-X Molecular Foundry shortly thereafter.

In 2020, Fordyce co-founded the Stanford.Berkeley.UCSF Next Generation Faculty Symposium with professors Aaron Streets, University of California, Berkeley, and Jason Sello, University of California, San Francisco. The Next Generation Faculty Symposium is designed to highlight work from exceptionally talented early career scientists with a demonstrated track record of creative research and a commitment to enhancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in STEM.

During 2020, 2021, and 2023, the Symposium regularly received 150-200 applications, and featured speakers were paired with faculty mentors to demystify the faculty job search process.

These virtual symposia were attended by up to 450 viewers and most participants have since successfully launched their independent laboratories at R1 research universities, including seven at Stanford. With support from the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub, the 2022 event also promoted community and networking among recently hired faculty of color in the Bay Area with peer mentoring sessions, lightning talks, and more.

Also, since 2015, Fordyce has taught BIOE 301D, a hands-on course in which teams of graduate and undergraduate students attempt to make devices in response to real-world needs “pitched” by clinical and life science laboratories on campus. In 2023, Fordyce and Jennifer Ortiz-Cárdenas, director of the Stanford Microfluidics Foundry, leveraged student projects from the course to develop and launch a new outreach program, housed within the Foundry and Stanford SciQube, focused on increasing research opportunities for community college students.

Finally, as labs across campus shut down during the pandemic, Fordyce led an effort to collect PPE for frontline workers at the San Mateo County Hospital when she learned of shortages in their emergency department.

Science Accelerating Girls’ Engagement (SAGE) Journey Program

The Science Accelerating Girls’ Engagement (SAGE) Journey Program, a SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Department of Energy (DOE) program, aims to broaden gender diversity in STEM, and empowers students to explore a wide range of future possibilities.

The program begins with the week-long SAGE Camp which encourages high school-age girls to explore STEM careers through innovative hands-on experiments and mentorship with scientists and engineers at SLAC and Stanford. The program supports intersectional recruitment of students from under-represented ethnic groups, and emphasizes recruitment for students without STEM mentors at home or school, and those who haven’t had exposure or access to STEM extracurricular activities.

After camp, the SAGE Journey continues with internships at Stanford/SLAC and other DOE laboratories. As of 2024, seven DOE National Laboratories have joined the SAGE Consortium, building a national network of supporters and outreach.

“SAGE students can see what a day in the life of a STEM career looks and feels like, and ask the volunteers questions about their jobs, why they chose STEM, and how they got where they are today,” according to SAGE’s citation. “They also have the opportunity to see that scientists and engineers are people just like them, and come from a variety of cultural and economic backgrounds.”

The SAGE Journey’s long-term mentoring success has been recognized by the Office of High Energy Physics (HEP) within the DOE’s Office of Science.

In the last seven years, 333 high school-age girls have attended the SLAC SAGE Camp, and SAGE alumni were awarded 46 internship positions across the DOE National Laboratory complex last year. SAGE alumni have also created seven SAGEx clubs at their high school to promote SAGE’s mission. SAGE Camps are supported by The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

The SAGE Journey is almost entirely driven by student, staff, and faculty volunteers who develop, plan, and promote career talks, high school visits, projects, seminars, camp science projects and curriculum, and more.

SAGE’s citation reads: “Through the work of building the future generation of STEM professionals and leaders, SLAC/Stanford students, staff, and faculty come together to build their own leadership skills and develop a local community supporting diversity.”