Mentorship Opportunities in Science and Agriculture for Individuals of Color (MOSAIC) mentors are involved in one-on-one mentorship of UW graduate students and postdocs. Our mentors include BIPOC UW faculty, staff, graduate student peers and those working in industry. Expectations of mentors include:
- In conjunction with the mentee, develop and establish expectations to be achieved
- Conduct one-on-one regular meetings with the mentee to evaluate and assess mentee progress
- Provide guidance and support mentee’s success
- Maintain professional confidentiality of all exchanges
- Participate in MOSAIC group gathers that include lunches, discussions, and other social activities
I am an Assistant Dean in the Office of Academic Affairs, and serve a number of roles within the office. As the supervisor of Transitional Advising and Outreach Services (TAOS) unit, I can help students explore different academic pathways at UW-Madison and at other institutions, as well as provide information for prospective students. I also serve as the Minority/Disadvantaged (M/D) student coordinator for CALS, representing the college in collaboration with campus peers and serving as co-chair of the CALS Equity and Diversity Committee, to help facilitate diversity, climate, and equity initiatives within the college. After growing up in Milwaukee, attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison, completing a B.S. majoring in Sociology in 1991, as well as an M.S. in Counseling Psychology in 1997, after having also participated as a student-athlete. I worked as a high school Guidance Counselor before returning to UW-Madison in 2000 as an academic advisor in the Athletic Department. I have served in my current position for 16 years. I live in Madison with my spouse, Debra, and children Wesley, Joelle, and Alana. In my spare time, I enjoy reading, movies, and watching all sports.
A native of Mali, Thierno Diallo takes great pride in his Fulani heritage. The West African ethnic group is well known for its tradition of raising livestock. Diallo’s family didn’t own cattle, but being immersed in the Fulani people’s pastoral ways made him long for a life in agriculture. That’s precisely the life Diallo pursued. He studied agronomy for six years in Russia (an experience about which he wrote and published a book) and interned on three farms in Normandy, France, before working for 12 years at three dairies in Wisconsin. In 2007, he took on his current role as a corn researcher with professor Joe Lauer in the CALS Department of Agronomy and decided shortly after that he wanted to use his skills and knowledge to give back to the agricultural community in Mali. To that end, in 2012, just outside Mali’s capital city of Bamako, he founded Gamou Organic Farms. According to Diallo, you can learn about farming from books and lectures, but you can’t truly appreciate it until you’ve done the manual labor.
“When I worked on farms, you would get up and do just about the same thing every day,” Diallo says. “So even if you don’t want to learn, something is going to stick. And if you really want to, and you love what you’re doing, there’s no limit to how much you can learn.”
Dr. Laura L. Hernandez is an Associate Professor in the Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and an Affiliate Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. She was born and raised in El Paso, Texas. She received her Ph.D. in 2008 from the University of Arizona and completed a three year post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Cincinnati Medical School. She has been a faculty member at UW since 2011.
Her area of research has focused on how serotonin controls the mammary gland and various aspects of lactation. The outcomes of her novel research are aimed at demonstrating the presence of factors (specifically serotonin) produced within the mammary gland that can control the animal’s physiology while lactating, particularly during the transition period when cows are the most metabolically and physiologically challenged. She specifically focuses on the interaction of serotonin and calcium metabolism during the peripartal period. Her research has determined that serotonin is an important regulator of mammary gland, maternal calcium, and maternal energy homeostasis during lactation. Her lab is currently working on the effects of using selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) during the peripartal period on long-term maternal bone health, as well as the health of the offspring. Her research on the coordination of maternal metabolism during lactation by the mammary gland has numerous applications to women that are breast-feeding, and is focused on improving maternal health during this time frame and in later life. Dr. Hernandez and her husband have a 9 year old daughter, 3 year old son, and huge dog named Oreo. Dr. Hernandez loves running, reading, and sporting events. She was a collegiate swimmer, is a die hard Dallas Cowboys fan, an avid supporter of encouraging young women to get excited about science, and dedicated to improving support for women giving birth and trying to breastfeed.
Leslie Holland is an Assistant Professor & Extension Specialist in the department of Plant Pathology at UW-Madison. She received her Ph.D. and M.S. in Plant Pathology at UC Davis and Washington State University, respectively. The focus of her research program is the diagnosis and management of fruit crop diseases.
Her extension program translates research findings into practical solutions to improve the productivity and sustainability of fruit production in Wisconsin. She is an advocate for enhancing opportunities for underrepresented groups in STEM education and research, and loves to share her enthusiasm for plant pathology with young scientists. When she is not working she enjoys being outdoors, traveling, and cooking!
I am an international BIPOC assistant professor (pronouns: she/her) at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery and the Department of Plant Pathology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Originally from Mexico City, I did my Undergraduate degrees in Actuarial Sciences and Applied Mathematics at ITAM. Then, I did a MA in Mathematics and a PhD in Statistics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
In my work, I am a statistician passionate about biology. I develop statistical models to answer biological questions, balancing biological interpretability, theoretical guarantees, and computational tractability. In my spare time, I am an outdoor enthusiast. I enjoy swimming, running, biking, climbing and yoga, and my happy place is Devil’s lake.
I am an early career professional working outside of academia, currently as a Nutrition Scientist in the dietary supplement industry where I am responsible for reviewing scientific evidence to support product claims. I earned my BS in Dietetics from UW-Madison in 2013 and my PhD in Nutrition from The Ohio State University in 2018. My passion for conducting research started as a sophomore in college as I spent 3 years studying fat metabolism with Dr. Eric Yen (Dept of Nutritional Sciences), followed by 5 years of studying muscle metabolism at OSU. Through my experiences, I co-authored 8 publications and earned 2 government fellowships in my academic research career.
Despite my roots in academic research, I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to do when I graduated from my doctoral program. However, I found an industry role after a few months of job searching and have never looked back. As such, one of my passions in my free time is to help undergraduate and graduate students both network effectively and explore science careers outside of academia. I have a special interest in guiding BIPOCs because we often lack resources and shared experiences in our academics and research training. My favorite hobbies include working out, playing tennis, hiking and traveling the world with my wife.
Natalia de Leon
My name is Natalia and I am a faculty member in the department of Agronomy and currently acting as chair of the Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics (PBPG) graduate program. The goal of my research is to understand the genetic architecture of economically important traits in plants and to use that information to improve the process of selecting plants to be better adapted to relevant environmental conditions. As a member of our campus community, the most important part of my job, however, is my responsibilities as mentor and teacher. Mentorship, like any other important relationship, has to be based on trust and mutual respect. Although mentors are more likely to have seen or experience certain things, each situation is completely unique and nobody has all the answers, therefore, a fruitful mentor-mentee relationship requires commitment from both parties. Since joining UW, I have had the privilege to advise or co-advise 14 graduate and 17 undergraduate students and have been part of the graduate committee of 86 students. Each experience has taught me something important about myself and I tremendously value such experience.
As a bit of background, I am originally from Uruguay, South America and lived most of my childhood and adolescence in different cities in Brazil, Argentina, and for a brief period, also the US, as my parents moved around for work. I moved to the US after graduating from my undergrad in Agronomy to pursue an internship at the USDA Dairy Forage Research Center. While there, I began my search for graduate school opportunities and landed the perfect (and only) offer from the PBPG graduate program at UW. I graduated with a MS degree in 2000 and a PhD in 2002. I then moved to Michigan State University for a postdoctoral experience and worked for the commercial sector for almost three years as a corn breeder before joining the faculty at UW in 2006.
I am the mother of two amazing kids, Lucas and Bruno, who always keep me honest. I enjoy spending time in the corn field, biking, canoeing/kayaking, traveling with the family and moving to the rhythm of the music. Pre-COVID, gatherings with extended family and friends were routine events in our household and I am looking forward to going back to that as soon as safe.
I am a faculty member in the department of Horticulture and Gottschalk Endowed Chair for Cranberry Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. My research program focuses on crop ecophysiology and production of small fruit and cold climate viticulture. I’m particularly interested in understanding crop adaptations to climate change and developing new management practices that will increase fruit crop resilience and thus ensure long-term sustainable production of these perennial crops in cold climate regions. I also have an extension program that focuses on generating and providing research-based information that improves crop production and profitability of the Midwest fruit industry.
I’m originally from Chile where my family manages an avocado orchard near the beautiful pacific coast. I moved to the US to pursue a graduate degree in horticulture after graduating with B.S. in Agricultural Engineering. I graduated with a PhD degree in horticulture from Cornell University in 2012 and moved Colorado where I was a faculty member at CSU for 2 years before moving to Madison in 2014.
Jyostna Devi Mura
I am Jyostna Devi Mura, a USDA Research Molecular Biologist and an Assistant Research Professor in the Department of Horticulture at UW-Madison. My research program’s primary focus is to improve cranberry production and quality by determining the physiological and molecular bases of processes that underlie soil nutrient dynamics and water relations. I am originally from India and graduated with M.S. and Ph.D. in Genetics and Biotechnology from India. I support underrepresented groups and promote education for underprivileged students at risk of dropping out of school. I am a co-advisor for the Association of Horticulturists of the Indian Subcontinent committee.
I have two lovely children, Aditya and Arun, who always keep me enthusiastic and happy. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends.
I am a postdoctoral research associate in the department of Agronomy focused on leveraging genome editing to better understand the role of transposable elements in corn. I completed my M.S. and PhD in Plant Breeding and Genetics from Texas A&M University in 2018 and 2022 respectively. While at A&M, I had the pleasure of working as a research technician for USDA. Outside of the lab, I’ve spent several years working to improve diversity in agricultural sciences through engagement with the Society for Advancing Chicanos, Hispanics, and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS). Additionally, I spearheaded the coordination of the Bridge Scholars program through the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America. When not working, I enjoy watching and playing soccer (Hala Madrid!), craft beer (both brewing and sampling), reading, and traveling.
Guolong Liang is an outreach specialist with a focus on commercial vegetables and agriculture water quality at UW-Madison Division of Extension. He completed his Bachelors and Masters degrees at the Department of Horticulture at UW-Madison. Born and raised in northwestern China, Guolong moved to Madison, WI for education and has stayed in Wisconsin ever since. He is an extrovert that gets inspired by people’s stories and experience.
“I as a lot of folks in our UW community, live in a country that we were not born and raised in. That created an unique and powerful experience for me through undergraduate, graduate, and now work environment. I am looking forward to chat about academia, Extension, community engagement, mental health, international student experience and engagement, dance, cooking, and how farmers grow food around the world.”
In his free time, Guolong enjoys dancing, cooking, walking, watching food vlogs and traveling. He also struggles to grow a garden so also feel free to provide some advice.
Acknowledgement & Gratitude
In addition to our volunteer mentors, we would like to thank the following people for their support, guidance, encouragement, and helpful feedback all along the way. We are thankful to you for championing this cause:
- Jo Handelsman (Director, Wisconsin Institute for Discovery)
- Lindsay Stoddard (Faculty Services, Office of the Secretary of the Faculty)
- Claudia Calderon (Faculty Associate, Department of Horticulture)
- Parmesh Ramanathan (Associate Dean, Graduate School)
- Christopher Yue (Interim Assistant Dean, Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Funding, Graduate School)
- Cheryl Gittens (Interim Deputy Vice Chancellor for Diversity & Inclusion, Elzie Higginbottom Vice Provost & Chief Diversity Officer)
- Abbey Thompson (Associate Director, SciMed GRS)
- Liza Chang (Postdoctoral Fellow, WISCIENCE)