Michi Taga recognized with Leon A. Henkin Citation

May 08, 2023

Congratulations to Michi Taga, professor in the Department of Plant and Microbial Biology (PMB), on receiving the 2023 Leon A. Henkin Citation for Distinguished Service

Headshot of Michi Taga

Awarded annually by the Committee on Diversity, Equity, and Campus Climate of the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate, the citation recognizes faculty who demonstrate an exceptional commitment to the educational development of students from underrepresented groups.

In a letter of support, Isha Ray, Associate Dean for Equity and Inclusion for Rausser College of Natural Resources, described Taga as a “fearless leader” who is “quietly, firmly, and tenaciously moving the needle of equity and inclusion.” Professors Sheng Luan and Britt Glaunsinger, the current chair and associate chair of PMB, wrote that Taga demonstrates “how UC Berkeley faculty can be at the top of their field and enact meaningful change to advance diversity, equity, and belonging.”

Taga has spearheaded numerous diversity- and equity-focused initiatives in PMB. She helped establish and chair the department’s Diversity Committee, played a major role in transforming the faculty search process, and took the lead in replacing the department’s GRE-driven graduate admissions process with an evidence-based numerical rubric—a change that was made approximately four earlier than the rest of campus. Taga has also been successful in securing new funding for the training and mentorship of graduate students from underrepresented groups.

Within her lab, Taga cultivates an inclusive, supportive, and safe environment for all. She was an early adopter of individual trainee development plans and yearly evaluations for graduate students, integrates structured training in aspects of diversity, equity, and inclusion into lab meetings, and regularly offers graduate students and postdoctoral fellows the opportunity to facilitate.

“Michi makes our campus more inclusive, honors our humanity and value as scientists, and jumps to action in our times of need,” her students wrote in a letter of support.

Outside of PMB, Taga was one of the driving forces behind the development of an emerging Inclusive Faculty Mentorship program for life sciences faculty on campus. She continues to serve as a mentor for the program.