Black Lives Matter: A statement from our department

June 24, 2020


We, the faculty, students, and staff of the UCSC Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics condemn racism, injustice, and hate.  The unconscionable murders of Geoge Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery and countless other innocent Black lives at the hands of police is evidence of systemic racism and deeply-rooted social injustice that must be addressed. We mourn with our Black colleagues and students who are reminded of the marginalization and oppression that is still, today, a part of their experience. We acknowledge and deeply lament the undue burden and collective trauma that they carry. 

We call for policy changes at all levels of policing that can immediately be implemented to reduce harm caused by police.  We also support transformative change that moves beyond policing toward comprehensive structures for community safety.  We urge campus administrators to audit campus police funding and resource allocations with such changes in mind. We condemn the unnecessary use of police force as was seen in the February 2020 graduate student strikes and hold these events as additional evidence that change is required.  

We recognize that systemic racism is endemic to academia.  This is evidenced in the under-representation of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and Persons of Color) faculty, especially in STEM fields. This is evidenced in the absence of Black faculty in our own department. We hear the voices of Black colleagues and students across the nation and at home describing their experiences of persistent microaggressions, macroaggressions, and structural biases that perpetuate and institutionalize exclusion. 

We affirm a commitment to anti-racist practices that ensure every present and future member of our community feels valued and knows they belong.  We pledge to take a critical look at hiring and graduate student admissions processes.  We pledge to educate ourselves with regards to racism and to learn how to be active allies.  We will critically examine the metrics we use to measure academic and professional success and better understand how they racially discriminate.  We will identify the ways that important contributions to our science by persons of color have gone unnoticed. We pledge to update the department website by October 1, 2020 to report back on these activities. 

This list is by no means exhaustive, nor is it sufficient.  Rather, it represents a work in progress and our continuing pledge to do better.  




Natalie M. Batalha Rebecca Jensen-Clem Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz
Kevin Bundy Alex Leauthaud Brant Robertson
Ryan Foley Piero Madau Connie Rockosi
Jonathan Fortney Claire Max Andy Skemer
Raja GuhaThakurta Ruth Murray-Clay Graeme Smith
Phil Hinz Xavier Prochaska


Emeriti: Staff:
Bruce Margon Lindsay Lauver
Patti Schell

Postdoctoral Researchers/Research Scientists:

Joe Burchett Josiah Schwab
Martin Gaskell
David Jones
Joshua Krissansen-Totton
Johannes Ulf Lange
Emily Martin

 Graduate Students: 

Sierra Clark Jamie Law-Smith Amanda Quirk
Anne Dattilo Kevin McKinnon Nicholas Scarsdale
Rosa Wallace Everson  Joseph M Akana Murphy Tyler Takaro
Erica J. Gonzales Grecco Oyarzun Maggie Thompson
Callie Hood Viraj Pandya
Molly Kosiarek Diana Powell

Undergraduate Students:

Cameron Clark

John Lopez


Astrobiology Initiative:

David Deamer

Chad Saltikov

Deana Tanguay

Zac Zimmer


UCO Lick Staff:

Elinor Gates

Bradford Holden

Natasha Pedroza

Andrew Phillips

Matthew Shetrone

Kyle Westfall



If you would like to add your signature, please click here.