Nashville, TN

Graduate Students of Vanderbilt celebrate Juneteenth and the contribution of Black physiologists

Lenny Schumacher
NIH History Office

NASHVILLE, TN — In commemoration of Juneteenth, seven graduate students from the Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics have put together a poster celebrating Black Freedom and achievements, as well as promoting further equity and anti-racist actions and policies in the U.S.

Students Slavina Goleva, Tiffany Richardson, Julia Pinette, Serena Sweet, Katrina Volk, Shannon Townsend and Cayla Ontko have researched and created a poster to show achievements, milestones and contributions by Black scientists in the field of physiology. It will also highlight the contributions of Black individuals in the field of physiology from Vanderbilt and outside of it.

These students chose the color of the poster based on the colors of Black History Month (black, red, green and yellow), which are also the prominent colors of the African flags. Each color represents different meanings.

The color red represents the color of bloodshed and the shared blood of African people. Black represents the color of noble and distinguished race they are. Green represents the motherland. And yellow represents the wealth and beauty of the sunlight.

In line with the poster, a video compilation was also created to recognize the struggles that Black individuals have endured. This video features Black scientists who share their experience and views. They also talk about the importance of acknowledging and starting a conversation about how the role of race is played in the efforts of academic, as well as in the aspects of life.

Dr. Andre Curchwell, senior associate dean for diversity affairs, stated on the video, “We need to continue to hear the growing chorus of anti-racism, freedom and justice from every corner of this great land—from doctors, lawyers, laborers, teachers and even in the ivory towers of our country where basic research is taking place.

"We cannot languish in our sanctuaries of science—enclosed and protected from the turbulence occurring in our society. Our voices must be part of the chorus for freedom and liberty, and we must speak, sing, and act now.”

The students also curated a list of Vanderbilt-affiliated scientists listed on the poster at

To watch the video please visit,

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