Outsiders at the Table

Dr. John Matsui is co-founder and Director of the Biology Scholars Program (BSP) at the University of California, Berkeley. He is also a lecturer in the Department of Integrative Biology and the Assistant Dean of Biology, in the College of Letters and Science. He serves on national advisory boards to broaden participation in STEM for the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and is the Associate Editor for the ‘Understanding Interventions that Broaden Participation in STEM’ journal.  In 2015, for his 25-years of work to diversify STEM, President Obama presented him with the NSF Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM) in the Oval Office.

Since 1992, 3500 Berkeley undergraduates have participated in BSP – 80% first-to-college/low-income, 70% women, and 60% from ethnic groups (African American, Hispanic, and Native American) underrepresented in science.  Dr. Matsui’s focus has been to recruit ‘under-valued’ STEM talent into BSP, students who enter Berkeley with lower SAT scores and high school GPAs and are less well-prepared to succeed in STEM majors. In spite of their significant ‘academic deficit,’ BSP members graduate in equal percentages with biology degrees and with equivalent exit GPAs as biology majors-at-large; demonstrating that in the right environment, students from under-resourced backgrounds can attain parity in academic performance with peers from more resource-rich backgrounds. He will share lessons learned from his work regarding how Berkeley can better support the success of all STEM majors.