Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Reciprocity

In our work, BCSP prioritizes the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion. We also strive to honor the Indigenous principle of reciprocity.

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Psychedelics research is undergoing a rapid expansion, but scientific interest in psychedelics often ignores or appropriates millennia of Indigenous practices with these plants, fungi, and compounds. Growing interest from users outside of Indigenous contexts has led to cultural appropriation, cultural destruction, and environmental harm. 

In our work, we strive to honor the Indigenous principle of reciprocity. We recognize our interconnectedness with multiple social and cultural communities. We aim to give back to the longstanding communities that have served as stewards of plant and fungal medicines. 

This commitment includes thirty-five Indigenous Research Student Fellowships over the next five years to support UC Berkeley graduate and undergraduate students from historically marginalized communities or whose work addresses issues of reciprocity and equity in psychedelic spaces. The fellowships are awarded to students interested in the scholarship, training, stewardship, public education, and journalism related to plant medicines and psychedelics. In 2022, we awarded $10,000 each to five graduate students and $5,000 each to two undergraduates. Read more about their projects here.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

BCSP aims to incorporate the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion across all our programs. We aim to accomplish this goal by engaging with a diverse array of leaders to help us understand the many perspectives related to plant and fungal medicines and psychedelics. This is an iterative, long-term process, but BCSP is fully committed to the necessary listening and learning. 

Our early initiatives include a pledge of at least ten percent of new unrestricted gifts to diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives led by BCSP, as well as reciprocity work. We are also requesting that donors of funds earmarked for specific projects similarly permit us to use ten percent of their funds in this way. 

Additionally, thanks to a generous gift, the BCSP Certificate Program is able to offer scholarships, mentoring, and other financial assistance to promote diversity within the first-year cohort, as well as to help craft an inclusive learning environment.

2022 Indigenous Research Student Fellows

Photo of Yanabah Jaques
Yanabah Jaques

Yanabah Jaques (YAH-nah-bah HAWK-is) from the Navajo Nation and completed her BS in cognitive science at Brown University. As a Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute PhD candidate in Dr. Daniela Kaufer’s laboratory, her research investigates specific serotonin receptor subtypes bound by psilocybin and their contributions to the regulation of traumatic-stress-induced impulsive behaviors. She aims to use the support of the BCSP Indigenous Student Fellowship Program to contribute to evaluations of serotonergic hallucinogens’ behavioral effects and underlying mechanisms to help determine their potential for treating post-traumatic stress disorder and other neuropsychiatric disorders.

Photo of Patricia Kubala
Patricia Kubala

Patricia Kubala is a PhD candidate in socio-cultural anthropology at UC Berkeley. Her dissertation project, The Medicine World: Psychedelic Therapy and the Labor for an Otherwise, explores the complex intertwining of Indigenous, postcolonial, and countercultural histories through which psychedelic medicines and therapies came to be adopted in the United States. The dissertation elucidates what notions of illness and cure are at stake in the encounter between the Indigenous, the psychotherapeutic, and the pharmaceutical that is mediated through psychedelics, while also considering the ethics of a practice of healing that has its condition of possibility in settler-colonial relations of appropriation.

Photo of Weiying Li
Weiying Li

Weiying Li is a PhD student in the Learning Sciences and Human Development cluster in the Graduate School of Education at UC Berkeley. In partnership with teachers from rural China and California, her research focuses on designing culturally responsive science pedagogy using educational technologies and designing adaptive guidance using natural language processing in response to students’ everyday scientific ideas. Her current research with BCSP focuses on designing traditional Chinese medicine–related middle school science inquiry curriculum in partnership with local community leaders, local TCM doctors, and science teachers in rural China.

Photo of Emely Ortez
Emely Ortez

Emely Ortez is an undergraduate student at UC Berkeley. Her interests in the lab include neuroscience and genetics. She researches the effects of psychedelics on the enteric nervous system of mice. Outside the lab, she’s a creative spirit who can be found reading, crocheting, painting, and taking her cat on walks around Berkeley.

Photo of Lina Turiya Richardson
Lina Turiya Richardson

Lina Turiya Richardson is a reentry psychology student at UC Berkeley. After nearly two decades of study and practice in several lineage traditions, Lina arrived at the university focused on the potential role of whole plant medicines in healing and mental health. Her personal experiences have fueled an interest in the function of prayer as one of several central, non-entheogenic practices common among Indigenous traditions in which ceremonial psychedelic medicine use is established. Over the last year, Lina has supported the evaluation of BCSP’s training program through UC Berkeley’s Undergraduate Research Apprenticeship Program. In addition to studying psychology, Lina is a consultant and educator working with startups founded by women. She also serves as a board advisor to Psychedelic Science at Berkeley, and is a UC Berkeley Regents’ and Chancellor’s Scholar.

Photo of Marlena Robbins
Marlena Robbins

Marlena Robbins is Diné from the Yeii Dine’e Táchii’nii (Giant Red Running into Water People) clan. She has been accepted into the Doctor of Public Health program, focusing on interdisciplinary studies and the advancement of Indigenous representation in sacred plant medicines. Her intention is to bridge Indigenous knowledge of sacred plants with Western clinical medicine, specifically in psychotherapeutic settings on tribal reservations.

Photo of Tiffany Taylor
Tiffany Taylor

Tiffany Taylor is a doctoral student in the department of anthropology. Previously, she received a Master of Public Health in Epidemiology from Columbia University and a Master of Science in Systems Biology and Bioinformatics from New York University. She graduated as a triple major and as a Student Marshal from the University of Chicago with undergraduate majors in Political Science, Sociology, and Comparative Race and Ethnic Studies. During her time at the University of Chicago, she was the sole recipient of the Brady Dougan Award in Economics. Her current research interests include visual, cultural, and medical anthropology; the science of psychedelics; human-computer interaction; social data science, bioinformatics, and systems biology; science and technology studies and ethnography. She loves learning languages and is studying Modern Greek.