“It was time to create the community we’ve been missing.”

Dr. Ari Kozik, co-lead organizer of #BlackInMicro week

Dr. Ariangela Kozik, a postdoc studying microbiology at Michigan and an AWIS-UM member who has served on our postdoc advice panel in the past, is national news! As co-lead organizer for #BlackInMicro, Dr. Kozik was recently featured in a New York Times article covering the movement, along with other organizers. #BlackInMicro week is happening now – it’s Sept. 28 thru October 4.

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Taken from their website, #BlackInMicro’s goals are to:

  • Showcase the presence and accomplishments of Black microbiologists from around the globe.
  • Connect Black microbiologists with one another and foster a sense of community among them.
  • Provide a forum for the discussion of racial disparities in microbiology and its subfields.
  • Amplify Black scientists in all fields, acknowledge the contributions to their disciplines and support the collective work of pursuing equity in academe, industry, government, and beyond.

We connected with Dr. Kozik to hear about how she helped take the helm on #BlackInMicro.

How did you come to co-lead BlackInMicro week?
So I think it was mid-Black in Neuro week when Kishana and I were chatting and were like, “Uhm, we need a Black in Micro [week], especially now because… pandemic…” That was the spark. The more we talked about it, the more excited we got. Months prior, we often would talk about our networks and how not visible a lot of Black scientists (especially academics) are, because we are so dispersed across institutions and companies and agencies. Once the “Black In ___” movements got going, it became very clear really quickly that this was so needed and so uplifting. It also showed how much we’ve adapted to isolating experiences and how those experiences perpetuate this narrative of scarcity (of talent/drive/resources). So we decided that it was time to create the community that we’ve been missing. 

What has the process of leading a national, remote organization been like?
About a week after officially making the decision to start BlackInMicro Week, we had our first organizing meeting and invited folks who expressed interest in helping organize via Twitter. We ended up as a team of about 30 or so people total, from all professional levels and subfields in microbiology. From there we got to work planning! We organized into teams based on broad tasks, set some deadlines and went to work. Over the next few weeks the vision and programming took shape. We have been very fortunate to gather such a phenomenal group of organizers that were 1000% committed to the vision (despite having school, families, other jobs and obligations that demand their time and attention). Our team consists of people from all over the globe, several in different timezones, yet we have been able to engage everyone and create something really beautiful. It has been a great community and space to interact everyday. After having so many overwhelmingly positive responses from organizers, sponsors, and potential speakers and other folks in the community, we realized that Black In Micro is here to stay. #BlackInMicro Week is just the beginning. 

BlackInMicro is just taking off. What’s next? How would you like to see it evolve?
Right now we are up to our eyeballs in logistics to make sure the rest of the week is just as amazing as the first half of the week has been. After Black In Micro week is over, we plan to have an organizer huddle and talk about what the experience has been like for everyone and collate everything we have learned. Then we plan to shift gears with our plans to ensure organizational longevity. I don’t want to speak too much on that yet since there are some important and exciting conversations that we need to have internally, but know this, Black In Microbiology is here to stay! 


Thanks to Ari for her time, and a broader thanks to the organizing team of BlackInMicro (team leads listed below) and others for paving the way for the next generation of Black scientists.

Dr. Kishana Taylor, Virology, Co-Lead Organizer
Dr. Ariangela Kozik, Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine, Co-Lead Organizer
Dr. Chelsey Spriggs, Virology, Sponsorship Lead (also a UMich postdoc)
Dr. Ninecia Scott, Bacteriology, Programming Co-Lead
LaNell Williams MS, PhD candidate, Virology/Physics, Programming Co-Lead
(and their web designer!)

Contributed by RMD.