ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
Jim Johnson, director of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) National Center for Environmental Research, indicated that there is about a 50-50 split between female and male program officers at the center. However, minority composition at the program officer level is only 10 percent. The center is working to create a comfortable environment that is similar to academic institutions but with less pressure. Johnson noted that there are various outreach programs at the EPA to encourage more minority students to study STEM; however, within the agency there are no differentiating programs for underrepresented minorities. Regarding its grants programs, Johnson noted that the EPA tracks the output such as publications and conference papers from principal investigators, trainees, and students funded by the grants. He concurred with other panel members that finding a way to increase principal investigators’ accountability and responsibility to better mentor young researchers is critical. Mentoring has been a key component of various EPA programs that target different groups, including undergraduate students, graduate students, and early-career researchers within the agency.
Responding to Joseph DeSimone’s question regarding challenges for universities to be in compliance with Title IX, Johnson noted that the impact of Title IX has been overlooked by academic institutions; however, it is a key component for success, and changes will be made, perhaps at a slower pace, in academic institutions.