Miriam Silberman, a senior majoring in Microbiology, with minors in Anthropology and Psychological and Brain Sciences, is the inaugural winner of the Garland Allen Prize in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Biological Sciences.
Professor Emeritus Garland E. Allen III was a renowned science historian and an outstanding leader in the Washington University Biology Department, advocating for racial and gender equality in the biological sciences. The Allen Prize was established in 2023 to honor his work and his memory, and is awarded to a graduating senior biology major who has made significant efforts in DEI.
The winner is selected by members of the Biology Inclusion Committee, who were greatly impressed by Silberman’s contributions to DEI inside and outside WashU, including efforts to promote representation and support people from unrepresented groups.
In his nomination letter, Professor of Genetics James B. Skeath wrote, “Simply put – Miriam is an outstanding scientist and person. She is committed to obtaining a biomedically focused PhD, with a focus on leveraging microbes to combat climate change. She is also committed to becoming a faculty member who champions students, like herself, who are from underserved and socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds, and helps them excel in the lab, the classroom, and beyond.”
Silberman says, “Winning the Allen Prize means a lot to me because it is a recognition of my cumulative efforts in and out of the lab. I hope that winning this prize will show other students who also have vested interests in supporting marginalized communities that it is possible to do it all - you can be someone who fights for DEI efforts and an excellent scientist at the same time.
“I would like to thank my mentors, Dr. Bose, Tahina, and the Bose lab; Dr. Guss and Austin; and Dr. Jez and Dr. Skeath, all of whom have encouraged my research for the last 3 years and have supported my efforts to frame my synthetic biology and metabolic engineering research in the lens of racial justice and equity, especially relative to environmental activism. I would also like to thank my Student Union family for their support during my term. Activism is not done by one person alone, and many of my endeavors would have gone unfinished without them. My time at WashU would not be complete without my SU and laboratory experiences. Finally, I would like to thank my family. Hailing from a very, very diverse background, being a Mexican, Chinese, Jew, there are few who can fully relate to my life experiences. To my brother, Joseph, and my mother, who were always there to talk to, I want to extend a special thanks. I could not have been successful in or out of the lab without these people.”
Silberman will receive the award and prize during a biology awards ceremony in May.