The University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Award

In Spring 2020, The College of Engineering inaugurated a college level DEI award. The purpose of this award is to recognize members of our community for contributions to increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) of the engineering profession both within and outside of the university. We acknowledge the contributions of two community members annually, one at the faculty/staff level and one at the undergraduate/graduate student or postdoc level.

Cielo Sharkus2021 Awardee: Cielo Sharkus

Sharkus is a doctoral candidate in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department studying environmental and water resources engineering. Sharkus is the founder of the non-profit organization Humans for the Opposition to Pollution and Emissions (H.O.P.E.), which creates community-based structures that meet the needs of disenfranchised community members by addressing environmental inequity through education, research, and project-based learning.


Shelly Peyton2021 Awardee: Shelly Peyton

Peyton is a professor in the Chemical Engineering (ChE) Department. Peyton has contributed to DEI advancement is numerous ways, including leading efforts in federally funded training programs to increase underrepresented-minority representation in UMass graduate programs.



Nomination Process

College Deadline: Friday, March 18

Submission materials needed:

  • One nominating letter of no more than two pages from within the university.

  • A DE&I contribution statement and list of synergistic work from the candidate. Please specifically note any contributions in the following areas (more welcome):

    • significant outreach to the university community;

    • commitment to promoting DE&I and building community at the undergraduate, graduate, and faculty levels within the college and/or a department;

    • commitment to promoting DE&I and building community outside of the University.

  • Up to two additional supporting letters of no more than one page each. Supporting letters may be from colleagues within and outside of the university.

Submission process

Please submit nominations as a single PDF to 


All faculty, staff, and students in the College of Engineering community.

College evaluation process

A committee of students, faculty, and staff will review the nominations. 

Former Awardees

Sanket Sabnis

2020 Awardee: Sanket Sabnis

Sanket is a Chemical Engineering PhD candidate. Sanket’s work highlights issues faced by LGBTQ+ individuals in STEM and providing tips to be good allies. Each department was allowed to nominate one individual at any level.