Professor Anne Baranger is intimately familiar with the concept of being an academic. “My grandfather earned his PhD in chemistry here at Berkeley, and my mother, my father, and my brother are all physicists.” Baranger’s career in chemistry started at UC Berkeley, when she earned her PhD in inorganic chemistry under Professor Bob Bergman. Now, as the Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) and an Associate Teaching Professor, Baranger is actively searching for ways to teach chemistry effectively and inclusively. She also aims to improve the community within the College of Chemistry, including faculty, staff, and students.
When Baranger moved from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to UC Berkeley, she did not imagine she would be leading a lab of her own anymore. But today, the Baranger lab is home to graduate and undergraduate students passionate about building an inclusive community by improving educational practices. The lab works to ensure students gain valuable problem-solving skills and have authentic research experiences. Their goal is to find ways to make chemistry more accessible, more enjoyable, and more relatable. The lab’s most recent focus area is how to measure an individual’s sense of belonging in the chemistry department. The Baranger lab developed a survey using illustrations to depict different experiences that could occur in an academic setting, such as imposter syndrome or mentor-mentee communication. The responders, which included graduate students, post-docs, and faculty,view each illustration and answer how they feel about the scenario. The team assigns a numerical value to each response, providing a quantitative way to measure belongingness. As Baranger continues in her new role as the Dean of DEI, the focus areas of her research lab will continue to evolve. “My biggest advice to graduate students is knowing your next decision is not your last decision,” says Baranger.
Julie Fornaciari is a graduate student in chemical and biomolecular engineering.
Note: The printed magazine erroneously states that Baranger's affliation is in the College of Engineering, rather than the College of Chemistry. It has been corrected in this online version.
This article is part of the Spring 2021 issue.
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