2021 Inclusive Excellence Awardees

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion wishes to congratulate the 2021 Inclusive Excellence Awardees. This award recognizes someone who exemplifies leadership in inclusive excellence in five categories:

  1. Inclusive excellence in research
  2. A University of Utah Health student
  3. A University of Utah Health trainee (resident, fellow, postdoc)
  4. A University of Utah Health faculty member
  5. A University of Utah Health staff member

The following awardees were recognized at a special event during MEDiversity Week. Thank you to all who nominated and recognized University of Utah Health folx who exemplify leadership in inclusive excellence.

headshot of Pavitra ViswanathPavitra Viswanath

She, Her, Hers
Ph.D. candidate and graduate research assistant, Department of Oncological Sciences, Huntsman Cancer Institute

Pavitra Viswanath grew up in Bangalore, India, and moved to the United States in 2016 to pursue her master’s degree in Biomedical Science in Dr. Faye Johnson’s lab at MD Anderson Cancer Center. With an ardent interest in studying metastasis and the tumor microenvironment, she moved to the University of Utah for Ph.D. studies where she joined Dr. Alana Welm’s lab at the Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) in 2019. Viswanath’s thesis research is focused on studying how the bone microenvironment helps breast cancer cells spread to other organs and form deadly metastatic disease and how a protein called RON tyrosine kinase promotes metastasis.

In addition to her thesis work, Viswanath is a committed champion for the inclusion of women and underrepresented minorities in science and serves on the HCI Healthcare Equity Index Committee. She also participates in national programs that include patients and patient advocates in cancer research such as the Guiding Researchers and Advocates to Scientific Partnerships (GRASP).

“’Diversity and inclusion’ is one of the things Pavitra is most passionate about, and because she doesn’t just stand by – she acts on that passion to try to make a difference.”

headshot of Dr. Kimberly J. TerryDr. Kimberly J. Terry

She, Her, Hers
Drug information specialist, Pharmacy Services

Dr. Kimberly J. Terry exemplifies leadership in equity, diversity, and inclusion. As a leader of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion taskforce for Pharmacy Services, Dr. Terry ensures screening and interviewing practices are nonbiased and inclusive, making the annual residency recruitment process fair and equitable for all candidates. Additionally, she leads the Implicit Bias Awareness and Action Training for Pharmacy Services, which focuses on helping pharmacy residents and preceptors understand the source of personal biases and break down individual positionality. Dr. Terry successfully creates an inclusive environment where participants can discuss sensitive issues and reflect on their own implicit biases.

In the community, Dr. Terry has served in the Inclusion Center for Community and Justice as a counselor, director, and board member. In January 2021, she was elected to Board Chair. Through this role, Dr. Terry helps the community overcome hatred and exclusionary practices to create more inclusive communities and organizes community activities that build respect, concern, empathy, and understanding.

“Dr. Terry has spent years volunteering with the Inclusion Center for Community and Justice to create a more inclusive community. She developed a program that helps staff within the pharmacy department recognize what implicit biases are and how they affect positionality. She has helped me become a better, kinder, more inclusive person. Because of what she has taught me, I have been able to have discussions with coworkers, friends, and family about implicit biases and positionality. She is helping those around her be advocates for diversity, equity, and inclusion not just at work, but in all aspects of their lives.”

headshot of Dr. Keke FairfaxDr. Keke Fairfax

She, Her, Hers
Co-director, IM-PREP Program; associate professor and director, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Department of Pathology, School of Medicine

Dr. Keke Fairfax has either led or participated in numerous activities to advance inclusive excellence across the University of Utah. This past year alone, she was key to the Diabetes and Metabolism Research Center’s “Rising Stars in Metabolism: Celebrating Diversity and Excellence in Science” seminar series and launch of the undergraduate summer research internship program BRIDGE-UP HBCU (Biomedical Research Inclusion & Diversity to Grow Excellence in Science – Undergraduate Program in partnership with Historically Black Colleges and Universities).

Dr. Fairfax has developed and teaches innovative, anti-racist training and seminars on the history of racism in medicine and the life sciences, with an emphasis on ethics-focused anti-racism. Within the School of Medicine, Dr. Fairfax developed a year-long IM-PREP program for underrepresented students in health sciences and serves on the School of Medicine EDI Action Committee which aims to make policy changes across the School.

“Dr. Fairfax is an outstanding scientist with an unusually broad perspective, and she is an institutional leader in promoting equity, diversity, and inclusion. Her commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion is genuine, passionate, and inspiring.”

headshot of Dr. Ivette LopezDr. Ivette Lopez

She, Her, Hers
Professor, Division of Public Health, Department of Family and Preventative Medicine, School of Medicine PI/director, Utah Area Health Education Centers

Dr. Ivette Amelia López, PhD, MPH is a dedicated professional in pursuit of health equity for Latinos and other underrepresented populations in the United States. From AIDS (the epidemic that drew her to public health) to diabetes, obesity causal explanations among minority women, to health assessments of Latino populations, her research and service are dedicated to engage minority communities in finding solutions to their health burdens.

Dr. Lopez advised and directed the master’s and doctoral theses preparation of over 55 students; chaired and labored with committees resulting in 30 doctoral degrees in 14 years. Most recently, as the PI/Director of the Utah Area Health Education Centers, she works on a COVID-19 CARES grant that focuses on the engagement of Community Health Workers of underrepresented populations in Utah.

“Dr. López’s leadership qualities include lifting and empowering others, and she leads by example. She is beloved by her students and mentees and is not unusual to have a stream of students waiting to talk to her outside her office even if is for a small greeting. Dr. López is a beacon of hope for minorities in Utah, true health warrior, and tireless advocate for health equity. Whether working with internal or external groups, she looks to find the best outcome for all involved. Our community has become more enriched, diverse, and inclusive as a result of the meaningful initiatives she has started.”