University of Richmond Biology Professor Omar Quintero-Carmona Receives National Award for Excellence in Inclusivity

December 1, 2021

Pictured above: Omar Quintero-Carmona, third from left, pictured with his research group in the summer of 2018.

Omar HeadshotUNIVERSITY OF RICHMOND — University of Richmond biology professor Omar Quintero-Carmona has been named the recipient of the 2021 Prize for Excellence in Inclusivity from The American Society for Cell Biology. He will be celebrated at the ASCB annual cell biology meeting, which started today and runs through Dec. 10.

This annual award recognizes a scientist who has a strong track record in cell biology research and has demonstrated the importance of inclusivity in science.

Quintero-Carmona, a cell biologist who has taught at UR since 2012, seeks opportunities to advance inclusivity both in and outside the classroom and lab. Most recently, he launched the George M. Langford Scientists of Color Speaker Series to feature notable as well as up-and-coming Black scientists.

Quintero-Carmona has mentored more than 75 undergraduates, including offering research opportunities to undergraduates with no prior laboratory experience. His commitment reflects his own experience as a graduate student in the Cell and Molecular Biology Program at Duke University when his advisor, Jo Rae Wright, took a chance on him by accepting him into her lab/research program. 

“Jo Rae was 100% invested in including me in science by finding the framework that best suited my interests and potential,” said Quintero-Carmona. “She taught me that we can be purposeful in how we mentor our students and build classroom and research lab experiences.”

“One of my aims is to provide opportunities for individual students that build from who they are in a way that aids their development in who they want to become,” Quintero-Carmona said, noting that inclusivity cannot fall on the shoulders of a few people.

“Inclusivity must be a community-wide, sustained, and concerted effort, and to be successful takes a genuine commitment from our institutions,” he said. “Institutions striving to be inclusive must invest resources and time into the development of every faculty and administrator’s expertise in inclusive practice at the same level they provide resources for becoming excellent teachers and expert scholars. These efforts will not be successful unless inclusivity becomes a core component of the culture.”

Quintero will receive a cash award of $5,000, which he intends to use to support opportunities for students, including participating in summer research and attending professional meetings or conferences.