NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

EDI Observes Native American History Month

Tierra Robinson
Tierra Robinson

In observance of Native American History Month in November, NIH’s Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion has recognized two NIH’ers—one as a “change agent” and the other as a “game changer.” 

Tierra Robinson—the change agent—is a member of the Piscataway Conoy Native American tribe and is a physical scientist in the Waste and Recovery Branch, Division of Environmental Protection, ORS. She is also a former postbaccalaureate fellow at NINDS.

“I make a point in using social media to highlight the fun and amazing things I get to do during my career in hopes of capturing the attention of young people in my tribe,” she said. “I have been successful, and I’m often asked how they, too, can find opportunities to put them on the path to a STEM career.”

She continues, “Diversity is essential to science. New ideas are how sciences have evolved since time immemorial. The introduction of various thinking from varied backgrounds is how the field improves and changes the quality of life for entire populations.”

Dr. Symma Finn—the game changer—is program director for the NIH-EPA Centers of Excellence for Health Disparities Research and oversees outreach and dissemination activities for the Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Program. She is also the NIEHS point of contact for tribal research.

Dr. Finn
Dr. Symma Finn

“Scientists have come to understand the importance of personalizing medical treatments based on the fact that people from different racial and ethnic backgrounds and socioeconomic status, among other attributes, react differently to biomedical and behavioral interventions,” she said. “It is, therefore, extremely important for both research participants and the scientists who conduct research to represent the diversity of the U.S. population. We will not understand the impact of disease risks or disease progression without taking into account the diversity of response. And, diversifying the scientific workforce allows for optimal engagement with research participants and ensures cultural appropriateness in research protocols.”

For more information about the observance, visit

The NIH Record

The NIH Record, founded in 1949, is the biweekly newsletter for employees of the National Institutes of Health.

Published 25 times each year, it comes out on payday Fridays.

Assistant Editor: Eric Bock (link sends e-mail)

Staff Writer: Amber Snyder (link sends e-mail)