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Fall 2019 / Winter 2020 Newsletter

Posted by on Monday, January 27, 2020 in Newsletter.


The Black Girl Magic Crew is a bi-weekly afterschool program in partnership with the Martin Luther King, Jr. Academic Magnet High School (MLK) that provides Black high school girls with a safe space to build community and discuss a range of topics, e.g., college prep, positive relationships, self-esteem, character building, and mental wellness. Approximately 15 girls participate in the afterschool program.

Fall 2019 marked the third semester that Dr. Claudine Taaffe, Senior Lecturer in the Department of African American & Diaspora Studies at Vanderbilt University, and Misha Inniss-Thompson, doctoral student in Community Research and Action at Peabody College at Vanderbilt University have partnered with MLK to host the program.

October 2019 was a busy month for the group that included regular meetings, panels, and a movie event. More than 20 girls from MLK attended a panel discussion about Black women’s college experiences at PWIs and HBCUs. Thirteen girls joined Dr. Taaffe and Misha to view the movie Harriet, a biographical film about Harriet Tubman. The film screening was followed by a luncheon and discussion centering on the emotional nature of the film and the portrayal of Black women’s narratives in the media.

The Black Girl Magic Crew program will serve as the foundation for developing a summer research academy, scheduled to launch in Summer 2021, for Black high school girls across Nashville.

2nd Annual March for Black Women in STEM

The 3rd annual march for Black Women in STEM took place on October 12, 2019.

Special guests included Dr. Teaira McMurtry from Milwaukee Public Schools and Dr. Temple Lovelace from Duquesne University.

The march commenced with Dr. Lovelace reading the poem “Henrietta Lacks” by Cedric McClester. Henrietta Lacks was an African American whose cancer cells are the source of the HeLa cell line leading to many significant breakthroughs in biomedical research. McClester’s poem speaks to Black girls and women pursuing studies and careers in STEM, the need for Black girls and women in STEM, and how Black girls and women ARE STEM. We look forward to seeing you next year for the 4th Annual March for Black Women in STEM on October 10, 2020.



Black Girl Lit Magic

If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.

– Toni Morrison

The Fantastic World of #BLACKGIRLLITMAGIC began its next season January 2020! This research-based book club  examines the portrayal of Black girls in children’s literature.

#BLACKGIRLLITMAGIC is supported by a Small Group Learning Community (SGLC) grant from the Vanderbilt Community Lab for the Intersectional Study of Black Women and Girls in Society.

During the Spring 2020 semester, Vanderbilt University at Peabody College undergraduate Elementary Education majors, and graduate students in Secondary Education, Learning & Design, and Diversity & Urban Studies will engage in scholarly research in the field of children’s literature include themes on contemporary children, young adult fantasy, and science fiction texts featuring Black girl protagonists.

Our goal is to work together to develop the knowledge and skills to think critically about the books made available to students through education and in classroom libraries, and the implicit and explicit messages these books are sending to students about what it means to be a Black girl.

#BlackGirlLitMagic spring 2020 children’s literature will include:

Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters

Author & Illustrator: John Steptoe

Not Quite Snow White

Author: Ashley Franklin. Illustrator: Ebony Glenn

The Dragon Thief

Author:  Zetta Elliott, Illustrator: Geneva B

Zoey and Sassafras: Dragons and Marshmallows

Author: Asia Citro, Illustrator Marion Lindsay

Children of Blood and Bone

Author: Tomi Adeyemi, Illustrator: Rich Deas

Facilitator Sara Jones, a former literacy schoolteacher, is currently a Ph.D. student at Vanderbilt University – Peabody College Department of Teaching and Learning.

There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside of you.                              

-Zora Neale Hurston

Excellence in Leadership

In Fall 2019, two Small Group Learning Communities (SGLC) received funding. Mariah Harmon and Micaela Harris , Ph.D. Students in Teaching and Learning at Peabody College – Vanderbilt University, will develop a SGLC titled “Black Women Unpacking their Intersectional Experience within the Classroom as a Tool to Inform and Enhance their Culturally Responsive Pedagogy.”

Sara Jones, Ph.D. student in Teaching and Learning at Peabody College – Vanderbilt University, will organize and facilitate a SGLC titled “The Fantastic World of #BlackGirlLitMagic: A Research-Based Book Club for Pre-Service Teachers.”

In Fall 2019, three Intersectional Study of Black Women and Girls in Society – TIPs Mini-Research grants were awarded. Award recipients are:

Lacee Satcher, Ph.D. student in Sociology at Vanderbilt University.

Proposal Title: Qualitative Investigation of Public Housing Residents Living in Resource “Deserts” in Urban Jackson, Mississippi

Brittany Marshall, Ph.D. student in Education at Rutgers University, and Micaela Harris, Ph.D. student in Teaching and Learning at Peabody College – Vanderbilt University.

Proposal Title: The Role of High School Mathematics Experiences for Shaping African American Women’s Mathematics Identities

Mariah Harmon and Micaela Harris, Ph.D. students in Teaching and Learning at Peabody College – Vanderbilt University.

Proposal Title: “Black Women Unpacking their Intersectional Experience within the Classroom as a Tool to Inform and Enhance their Culturally Responsive Pedagogy.”

The Call for Proposals will be released in Spring 2020 with a submission deadline of February 14.

Special thanks to the selection committee members: Kimberly S. Berry, Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations at Vanderbilt University, Dr. U. Monique Robinson, Assistant Dean for Student Affairs, Vanderbilt University – Peabody College, and Dr. Christy L. Erving, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Vanderbilt University.

There is No Force Equal to a Woman Determined to Rise

Vanderbilt University Chancellor’s Global Public Voices Fellowship

Dr. Renã A.S. Robinson, Associate Professor of Chemistry, was  selected as a Chancellor’s Global Public Voices Fellow for the spring 2020 semester. The Chancellor’s Global Public Voices Fellowship is designed to expand Vanderbilt’s global reach amplifying the impact of faculty research through media training and enhanced strategic communications. Visit Vanderbilt’s A&S Facebook and Instagram pages for posts on her appointment.

$4.2 Million NIH Grant Awarded

Dr. Renã A.S. Robinson, Associate Professor of Chemistry at Vanderbilt University, received a five-year $4.2 million grant from the National Institute of Health to support research in the area of Proteomics of Hypertension and Alzheimer’s Diseases in African Americans. This research project seeks to understand biochemical pathways which link hypertension and Alzheimer’s disease in African Americans by using large-scale proteomics analyses.


The STEM Sistah Network began the academic year with a networking and social mixer on Thursday, August 29, 2019 at the Engineering and Science Building at Vanderbilt University. Guests also included individuals from Tennessee State University, Meharry, and Fisk University

Dr. Nicole M. Joseph  was recognized at the STEM Sistah Network fall 2019 networking and social mixer as the recipient of the Chancellor’s Award for Research and Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. View the full article at:

Securing the Bag: Writing and Winning Grants workshop was held on September 12, 2019. Workshop facilitator, Dinessa Solomon, Executive Director in the Office of Corporate and Foundation Relations and Small Groups, provided an overview of how to obtain funding tailored to a project and tips on writing grant and fellowship proposals.

Reclaiming Your Time: Goal Setting and Time Management was the topic of the STEM Sistah Network workshop on October 17th. This interactive workshop facilitated by Dr. Jada Benn Torres, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Director for the Laboratory of Genetic Anthropology and Biocultural Studies at Vanderbilt University, provided goal setting and time management resources and tools to enhance work productivity, academic tasks and activities, and to reduce stress.

The Publication Process workshop, held on November 7, 2019, assisted participants with their writing techniques and provided guidance on how to get published. Facilitator Dr. Audrey Bowden, Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering, shared information on publishing academic and scientific articles, selecting appropriate publishers, and preparing submission materials.

The Fall 2019 STEM Sistah Network events hosted more than 40 participants from Vanderbilt University, Tennessee State University, Meharry, and Fisk University.