Mission - Building Diversity in Science


The mission of BDIS is to inspire, empower and support underrepresented groups students in the pursuit of STEM careers through platforms that include knowledge sharing, self-discovery and creating life-balance.

Students with a passion for science, technology, engineering, and/or mathematics (STEM) will make up the next generation of professionals in these respective fields. It is these fields that are responsible for the economic and technological prosperity of our global society. Overall STEM occupations are projected to grow faster than those available through other employment paths. Advantages to a career in the STEM disciplines are widely acknowledged, and in general, these careers are well-paid with opportunities for advancement.

BDIS has witnessed an ongoing lack of information and exposure to role models for underserved and underrepresented students at the very early decision-making stages when considering STEM disciplines. Statistics from the National Science Foundation show that although 70,000 minority students and a proportional number of women enter the STEM disciplines as college freshman, almost 50% have changed direction by their junior year. Among those remaining, only 103 will achieve a doctoral degree.

In the United States as the workforce becomes more diverse, organizations that embrace diversity have a more solid footing in the marketplace than others. However at the leadership and upper management levels of the workforce, in the arenas of research, development and innovative technology the lack of representation by qualified minority workers and qualified women is evident. Newly-trained STEM employees from diverse cultural backgrounds bring fresh perspectives and untapped experiences.

In an increasingly competitive economy, where talent is crucial to improving the bottom line, demand for top-level candidates is high. Providing a more robust pipeline of diverse candidates to growing businesses and established companies results in a more qualified workforce, encourages more innovative approaches to problem solving, and promotes productivity. BDIS is committed to increasing these career opportunities for those we serve.

What we do

Through an array of programs and services, BDIS inspires and supports underrepresented groups throughout their academic training and careers. BDIS exposes young people to STEM disciplines and encourages underrepresented groups to pursue STEM fields using the encouragement of role models and support networks, while equipping them with the personal skills needed for success. For college students, where underrepresented students often feel isolated and discouraged in their field, BDIS serves a vital role in providing peer-support, camaraderie, and opportunities for growth. For those working in STEM-related careers, BDIS is a resource for identifying talent and an oasis for idea-sharing amongst a uniquely-compiled network of peers.

Our History

In August of 2001, Frederick Moore, PhD and Michael Penn, Jr., MD, PhD came together to form Brothers Building Diversity in the Sciences, Inc. (BBDS). Through their experiences in science and education, Fredrick and Michael realized there was an urgent need to provide minority students who were pursuing science degrees with support that would go beyond traditional programs. The original mission of BBDS was to increase the number of minority students obtaining PhD and MD/PhD degrees in the biomedical sciences.

Over the years the organization evolved, and in 2006 BBDS changed its name to Building Diversity in Science (BDIS).*

In 2007, BDIS produced the first Scientific Empowerment Movement Conference. In 2008, the Infinite Possibilities Conference moved under the umbrella of Building Diversity in Science, increasing the ability of our organization to pursue our mission. Programs that have been produced by BDIS include the annual BDIS Mentoring Program, the Infinite Possibilities Conference, the Scientific Empowerment Movement Conference, and BDIS Scholars.

Since 2006, BDIS has counted on the efforts of hundreds of volunteers to produce results. From Board members and their Advisors who make critical organizational decisions to the friendly faces that provide registration services and support to conference attendees, all are devoted to the initial passion of our founders.

*Building Diversity In Science is a federal tax-exempt 501 (c) (3) organization.
Our Tax identification number is 94-3360529.

Board of Directors:



E. Carmen Torres

has worked in the nonprofit sector for over 20 years and dedicated her career to improving the lives of the people in San Francisco and the Bay Area. She is committed to three specific objectives: 1.) increasing the number of underrepresented minority students and women who enter the STEM disciplines, 2.) access to arts education and expression for all students, and 3.) the availability and protection of public-friendly, sustainable green spaces.

Ms. Torres chose to leave the world of sales and private industry in 1991, to enter the ranks of non-profit professionals. Her career has encompassed the private sector and non-profit sectors. Early experiences in direct services led to a fund development career.

In 2007, Dr. Frederick Moore approached Carmen to be part of the inaugural steering committee/work group for the Scientific Empowerment Movement (SEM) Conference, and the rest as they say is history. She became a member of the Board in 2008. Vice-President of the Board in 2010, and in 2012 was elected to and assumed the responsibilities of President of the Board.

Passionate about connecting people to missions, and fulfilling the vision of the organizations that she serves, Ms. Torres has helped produce four SEM conferences, and been a participant and speaker at two Infinite Possibilities Conferences. She strongly supports the goals of BDIS to empower underserved minorities and women in the STEM disciplines.

Carmen is a native Californian, from Monterey, and holds advanced degrees in Theatre Arts, specializing in acting, directing and critique.



Marsha Harrison

is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma and over the past 20 plus years, has had an extensive and varied events, sales, and marketing background. Marsha started her corporate career with Marriott Corporation in a national and international capacity. From there she continued with companies such as Oakwood Worldwide, streamlinevents Inc, Pico Worldwide, and Jamestown Investment Properties.

Currently a Western Regional Marketing Specialist for Benjamin Moore, Ms. Harrison continues to provide consultative marketing services and content writing. Healthcare industry organizations such as Nurse’s Children Foundation, Alameda Pediatric Dentistry, and Alameda County Healthcare Department’s Emergency Medical Services, have utilized her expertise. Due to the commitment she has towards the healthcare industry and children’s programs, Marsha’s intention is to assist BDIS and their board in providing career paths for students within the STEM industry.

Ms. Harrison sits on the Executive Board for The Charles Reid Foundation and the Scientific Empowerment Movement. She has also chaired various committees for Meeting Professionals International, is the BDIS representative for ACHPP, and is acting Marketing Director for NCF.



Joy Alafia, MBA

is the Director of Business Products for REBS®, a subsidiary of the California Association of REALTORS®. She is responsible for developing innovative products and services used to empower REALTORS® in their ability to serve their clients. Joy is a frequent speaker at organized real estate conferences and has published articles for the California Real Estate magazine. Her employment history includes Intel, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, CVI Melles Griot and the Electrical Power Research Institute (EPRI). Joy received her B.S. in Physics from Spelman College, MBA from Pepperdine University and completed training in global strategy and trade at Oxford University.



Tanya Moore, PhD

a native of Berkeley, CA, received her doctorate training in the field of Biostatistics at the University of California, Berkeley. Prior to attending UC Berkeley, Dr. Moore obtained a BS degree in Mathematics from Spelman College.

After completing a postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Biostatistics at the University of California, Los Angeles, she returned to her hometown where she worked with the Berkeley’s Public Health Division to address health inequities. Tanya is one of the creators of the Infinite Possibilities Conference, a conference designed to support, empower and promote underrepresented minority women mathematicians.

Currently, Dr. Moore works as an Education and Youth Services Specialist for the City of Berkeley. In this role she works with City departments, Berkeley Unified School District, UC Berkeley and community organizations on joint initiatives to close the academic achievement gap that persists in Berkeley’s public schools.


Ayanna Reed, MBA

is the Director, Human Resources for the Oakland Museum of California. Her responsibilities include strategic planning, learning and development, compliance and administration, and organizational capacity building.

Ayanna has more than 16 years of experience in Human Resources management across diverse industries including manufacturing, technology, consumer products and non-profit.

Prior to joining the Oakland Museum of California, Ayanna spent four and a half years at the San Francisco AIDS Foundation where she gained increased responsibility including managing the human resources, facilities and administrative functions.

Ayanna earned a Masters of Business Administration with a concentration in human resources from Georgia State University. She received her bachelor’s degree in finance and international business from Clark Atlanta University, and she holds a Professional Human Resources (P.H.R.) certification.

Ayanna is married with two young sons and lives in the East Bay.


Lily Khadjavi, PhD

received her bachelors degree, cum laude, from Harvard University, and her PhD in Mathematics from the University of California, Berkeley.

She is an Associate Professor of Mathematics at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, having spent time as a visiting scholar at the University of Queensland, in Brisbane, Australia, and at U. C. Berkeley.

Her research interests range from algebraic number theory to the use of statistics in social science, and she is working on an analysis of LAPD traffic stop data, focusing on the issue of racial profiling. This project has led to joint research with a law professor and collaboration with the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights in Los Angeles (CHIRLA).

Committed to civil rights advocacy, Dr. Khadjavi serves on the board of the Barbara Jordan/Bayard Rustin Coalition, a Black LGBT advocacy organization in Los Angeles.

Digital media funded by a grant from The Edward Joseph Daly Foundation.

Print media provided by Imprint Copy and Print, San Francisco

Additional site support provided by "The Power of Us" grant from Salesforce.com.

Contact us

1618 Sullivan Ave. #302
Daly City, CA 94015

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