– Magdalen Lindeberg
Chris Peritore, graduate student in the SIPS Section of Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology was presented with the Social Justice Award at the 2017 Graduate Diversity & Inclusion Spring Recognition Banquet. The event is sponsored annually by the Graduate School Office of Inclusion & Student Engagement (OISE) and the OISE Student Leadership Council to celebrate academic and professional achievements of their peers and organizations.
Peritore was nominated by fellow SIPS graduate student Morgan Carter. In her nomination letter Carter cited Peritore’s advocacy for diversity and inclusion, and it’s lasting impact on the community. Among these contributions are his leadership in the Cornell Chapter of SACNAS, an organization dedicated to fostering the success of Chicano/Hispanic and Native American scientists, and his work as a Residence Assistant for the Summer Research Scholars Program in Geneva. He has additionally volunteered in the broader community at Spanish education events (Dia de ciencias at SHPE), at GRASSHOPPR workshops (2016 and 2017), and as a mentor to undergraduates through Mi Comunidad.
Carter commented, “Through his thoughtful dialogue, he has inspired me and others to work harder to address the prejudices of myself and others”, citing discussions they have had about “the different paths through life that everyone has and how those can be celebrated and not isolating.”
Peritore is a PhD student in the research program of Chris Smart, where he is working on genome analysis of bacterial pathogens of vegetables. When asked about his motivations for outreach and advocacy, he responded, “There is a need for larger audiences to understand and care about our scientific research and also to know who we are as people, so that being a ‘scientist’ is no longer an abstract concept. Outreach is especially important to me as an underrepresented minority in STEM.”