Hispanic/Latino club wins first WIST Diversity Award

By Eleanor TaylorFebruary 8, 2012

Argonne's Hispanic/Latino Club is the first winner of the laboratory's annual Women in Science and Technology (WIST) Diversity Award, created to honor the contributions of an individual or team for their commitment to promoting diversity at the laboratory.

Since its founding seven years ago, Argonne's Hispanic/Latino Club has actively encouraged, supported and celebrated diversity by promoting fellowship and sharing the richness and variety of Hispanic/Latino cultures. In addition to providing networking opportunities for colleagues throughout the lab, members of the Hispanic/Latino Club work with local schools to encourage students to pursue higher education through events such as the Hispanic Educational Outreach Day and Career Days at nearby schools with large populations of Latino students.

In addition to reflecting the nation's multicultural fabric, diversity in the workplace has many benefits: attracting top talent, fueling creative problem solving, driving innovation, and improving team performance.

"It doesn't matter what your ethnic background is," said Mike Kaminski, an Argonne scientist and president of Argonne's Hispanic-Latino Club. "Innovation often comes from the contributions of people from a wide range of backgrounds. If you're not tapping into those backgrounds, you're missing out on an opportunity unique to America."

"It is such an honor for our club to be recognized," added Kaminski. "It is really a group effort, and this award will help us do even more." The award includes a $500 donation to support the Hispanic/Latino Club programs and scholarships.

The Hispanic/Latino Club has established a need-based annual scholarship at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for promising Latino undergraduates in math, science and engineering, and also has formed an agreement with the United Neighborhood Organization (UNO) Charter School Network of Chicago to create a new need-based scholarship for students entering top-ranked high schools in this area.

"Diversity is so important to science, and we were very excited to make this award a reality," said Kawtar Hafidi, an Argonne physicist and current leader of the WIST program. "Argonne's Hispanic/Latino Club sets a great example and we look forward to encouraging others and celebrating the successes of future WIST Diversity Award winners."

Argonne's WIST program supports the U.S. Department of Energy's commitment to recruit, retain and promote women researchers as part of a diverse and strengthened scientific workforce. WIST provides leadership and resources to help advance the success of women, encourages professional growth and development and works to promote diversity at all levels within the laboratory to create a premier institution for research and development.

Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation's first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America's scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science.