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AIChE Features Peyton in LGBTQ+ ChemE Professional Series

Shelly Peyton, a professor in the Chemical Engineering (ChE) Department and an adjunct faculty member of the Biomedical Engineering Department, was showcased as a “Featured LGBTQ+ ChemE Professional” in a long interview on the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) ChEnected website. See entire interview here.

In the AIChE interview with Peyton, the website explains, “AIChE presents the most recent post in this series featuring LGBTQ+ engineers and their allies as part of an ongoing effort to share stories of equity, diversity, and inclusion.”

As College of Engineering Dean Sanjay Raman explains about Peyton, “In addition to her exceptional efforts as an advocate and mentor for our underrepresented communities in engineering, Shelly is also an indispensable leader in the college on research and innovation, graduate affairs, and faculty recruiting, and a champion for diversity and inclusion in all aspects of the academic enterprise.”

Peyton, who received her B.S. from Northwestern University and her Ph.D. from the University of California Irvine, has been an AIChE member since 2003. She was also recently elected as a Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering and she heads the Peyton Research Group in the ChE department.

As Peyton says about her research team, “Our mission is to learn how a variety of different cell types are able to process information from biochemical and biophysical cues from the extracellular matrix and make decisions about migration and phenotype. To do this, our lab uses both 2D and 3D biomaterial model systems, which can be engineered from the ground-up to instruct cells via both biochemical and biophysical signaling pathways.”

In the AIChE interview, Peyton is asked to “tell us a bit about your experience as an out LGBTQIA+ professional working in engineering.” She replies that “My experience has been fantastic. I have been blessed to have amazing, supportive, and collaborative colleagues. I'm also lucky to live in a very liberal area of the U.S.”

Peyton goes on to explain that “When I was looking for tenure-track jobs, being able to work at an excellent institution while also living in a welcoming area was very important to me. This was a primary factor when I chose to accept my offer at UMass. I have found everyone here to be supportive of LGBTQIA+ issues across the board: from faculty to staff to students and beyond.”

During the interview, Peyton also says that “We all need to serve as advocates for other members of the LGBTQIA+ community as well as for members of other underrepresented and underserved groups. Be as active as you can in LGBTQIA+ groups in your professional societies, but also be an advocate for groups you may not be a member of, such as those serving folks in underrepresented-minority groups, or, if you identify as male, for women in science groups. You don’t have to identify as a member of a community to advocate for them.”

As College of Engineering Assistant Dean for Diversity Paula Rees explains, “Professor Peyton has been an important advocate and role model for our LGBTQIA+ students and allies in engineering and at UMass. Our student chapter of oSTEM (out in STEM) was started just a few years ago by undergraduates in chemical engineering, and the department’s reputation as being a supportive and welcoming environment helps us attract high-caliber students and faculty.” (July 2020)