Skip to main content
2024 Dean's Climate and Diversity Award group photo.

Eberly College of Science announces 2023 Dean’s Climate and Diversity Awards

29 January 2024

The Eberly College of Science has selected three individuals to receive 2023 Climate and Diversity Awards in recognition of their extraordinary commitment to enhancing the environment of mutual respect and diversity in the college. The annual award is supported by the Santacroce Family Climate and Diversity Fund in the Eberly College of Science.

This year's awardees are Jackie Bortiatynski, teaching professor and undergraduate adviser in chemistry and director of the Center for Excellence in Science Education; Nushrat Hoque, chemistry graduate student; and Katie Mantz-Weller, education program specialist. The awardees and nominees were honored at an annual ceremony on Jan. 26, 2024.

Jackie Bortiatynski

Bortiatynski serves as the director of the Center for Excellence in Science Education, where she works with college faculty on best practices in teaching and develops programming for teaching-related professional development. One nominator said that “Jackie’s passion for relevant and current diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging practices drives our college’s professional development programming.” Numerous faculty and undergraduate students have cited Bortiatynski as a champion of DEIB.

“Jackie has helped me feel that I belong, and she has inspired me to come up with innovative ideas in my teaching, to get involved, and be a lead in implementing and disseminating DEIB in teaching, and even to take up a role where I can help other faculty improve their teaching,” said a nominator.

Beyond mentoring faculty, Bortiatynski has also worked to incorporate evidence-based practices into her first-year seminar in chemistry, where she has recruited 10 to 12 learning assistants to help foster belonging and the growth of community in chemistry.

“Dr. B does absolutely everything in her power to create a safe and inclusive environment for her students,” said an undergraduate learning assistant. “You can tell that she truly cares about her students' success and well-being, from the time she first meets them in the first-year seminar to after graduation. She is everyone's biggest cheerleader, and I know we are all incredibly thankful to have her.”

Nushrat Hoque

Hoque is a fifth-year graduate student in chemistry who has been a member of Climate and Diversity Committees of the Eberly College of Science and of the Department of Chemistry since 2020. On the department committee, Hoque has led several initiatives to foster diversity and belonging within the department including, but not limited to, co-organizing a stereotype threat workshop in collaboration with the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and preparing materials for Arab American Heritage Month. Notably, Hoque led a survey to assess the climate and diversity within the Department of Chemistry and served as a graduate student representative on the survey evaluation committee.

While on the college committee, Hoque organized workshops focused on mental health, financial planning, and family leave and coordinated Tails and Treats events, where members of the college community gather informally with their pets. Additionally, Hoque served as the co-chair of the graduate student subcommittee, which is involved with organizing and addressing concerns of graduate students across the college.

“It is clear from Nushrat’s involvement in this remarkably large number of outreach activities that she deeply cares about diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging in the department of chemistry and, more broadly, the Eberly College of Science,” said a nominator. “Simply put, she makes Penn State a better place to work. Her dedication and leadership are exemplary.”

Katie Mantz-Weller

Mantz-Weller is an education program specialist in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, where she is responsible for the Forensic Science program’s outreach and recruiting. As part of her recruitment responsibilities, Mantz-Weller has established a recruitment network of several historically Black colleges and universities and other professional organizations including SACNAS and NOBCChE. She is a member of the college's Climate and Diversity Committee and co-chair of its staff subcommittee as well as a member of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Climate and Diversity Committee.

“Mantz-Weller has demonstrated an extraordinary talent for reaching out to wide groups of prospective students from a range of backgrounds and always going out of her way to make them all feel equally included,” said a nominator. 

Outside of her outreach and recruiting duties, Mantz-Weller has become the contact for students, providing emotional support and guidance for undergraduate and graduate students. Mantz-Weller was also selected as the adviser for several forensic science clubs, selected by the students because of her well-known attitude toward diversity, equity, and inclusion.

“Mantz-Weller has fostered a very positive environment for our students while working diligently as a valuable member of our staff,” said a nominator.