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Diversity Initiatives

Center for Student Cultural Diversity

The Office of Diversity Initiatives was established in 2011 and represents an institutional commitment to make the academic and social transition of underrepresented students to college life successful through exposure to academic programs and student services. We aim to be responsive to the needs of our campus' diverse constituents, and approach diversity as an ongoing effort to evolve and improve our University. Diversity Initiatives works closely with academic and administrative units to attract, advance and retain a diverse faculty to strengthen the link between diversity and academic excellence.

Faculty Profiles

Learn more about some of the University's diverse faculty members.

Yantao Shen, Associate Professor
Yantao Shen

Shen holds B.S. and M.S. degrees from the Beijing Institute of Technology and a Ph.D. from Chinese University of Hong Kong and has had research supported by federal agencies such as NSF, NASA, as well as the state and local agencies. He has published more than 90 research papers in his field.

Yantao Shen is an associate professor of electrical and biomedical engineering in the College of Engineering. Shen, who is the director of the Lab for Bioinstrumentation and Automation, has an extensive research agenda in automation, robotics, sensors and actuators, and tactile/haptic interfaces. He recently received a prestigious and highly competitive National Science Foundation CAREER award in the amount of $418,802 for his project entitled Adaptive Electro-Braille: A New Tactile Sensory Substitution and Assistive Technology for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Shen's work investigates a touch-sensitive device that is adaptable and convenient for use, is worn on the finger and features electronic scanning technology to scan a variety of topics, including Braille text.

"This technology, which I've named E-Braille, will allow the blind and visually impaired to conveniently access more documents, books and libraries, anytime and anywhere. It's based on electrical stimulation with online skin bioimpedance sensing and tactile-preference rendering functions. Equally important to my goal is the recruitment and training of the next generation of engineers who will emerge not only with a solid background in engineering and science disciplines but also have the passion and ability to contribute their expertise in multidisciplinary assistive and rehabilitative engineering areas."

Vanessa Vancour, Coordinator, Nevada Media Alliance
Vanessa Vancour

Vanessa Vancour is a veteran broadcast journalist, communications professional and digital technology expert who is the coordinator of the Donald W. Reynolds School of Journalism Nevada Media Alliance, a multi-platform news partnership with regional media.

In her role as coordinator, Vancour is responsible for overseeing student-produced journalistic content on subjects such as northern Nevada business and economics, environment and culture. She manages relationships with the Nevada Media Alliance's; professional partners, including the Reno Gazette-Journal, KUNR and KNPB and is responsible for all editorial planning and management. Vancour, as coordinator of the Nevada Media Alliance, is spearheading the effort to implement a national grant from the Online News Association Challenge Fund for Innovation in Journalism Education to establish a student-run Spanish language reporting team through the Nevada Media Alliance to develop bilingual multimedia news coverage ahead of the 2016 presidential election, serving the Latino community of Northern Nevada.

"We plan to test a project to engage Latino adults through events journalism, specifically a series of four monthly 'pop-up newsroom' events to be held at locations in the Hispanic community," Vancour said.

Fluent in Spanish, Vancour serves on the outreach and advocacy committee of the Food Bank of Northern Nevada, founded the Reno-Tahoe Bloggers network and is co-founder/writer for Off-Tract Blog. Her work has appeared in national media including ABC News, Glamour magazine, Redbook magazine and AOL Daily Finance. A graduate of the University of Southern California, Vancour previously served as an account manager and strategist for Noble Studios and was a public relations and social media coordinator for the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority and as a video journalist and bilingual reporter for KRNV-TV.

Raul Rojas, Professor
Raul Rojas

Raul Rojas is a mathematics and statistics professor in the College of Science. He comes to Nevada by way of a Visiting Fellowship at the Center for Information Technology Policy at Princeton and Freie University Berlin, Germany, where he was a professor artificial intelligence and robotics. He is a world-class scholar and internationally known for his innovative research on autonomous guidance systems for automobiles.

Rojas studies and teaches about intelligent systems and robotics and collaborates across a number of disciplines, and with industry, on a variety of topics. He works with biologists, mechanical engineers, seismologists, educators and computer scientists. His specialty is building intelligent machines, writing programs for robots and human-machine interface. He and his team have even developed a mind-controlled car.

"My intention is to bring cars to Nevada to continue our research. My first project will be to have one of them autonomously for a few thousand miles (in October 2015, Rojas set a record for the longest autonomous drive in Mexico, 1,500 miles from the U.S. border in Nogales to Mexico City). We can't rely on Google maps or other commercial mapping services for the needed accuracy, so we will capture the GPS coordinates for the trip with one of the standard cars, create the needed street and highway graphs, and then make the long drive with the second."

Rojas has been developing intelligent systems since 1986. He is a member of the Mexican Academy of Sciences and is the recipient of Berlin's Technology Prize in 2008. He is also the recipient of the Gold Medal of Science and Technology of Mexico city. He attended the National Polytechnic Institute in Mexico City, where he majored in mathematics and physics. The German Association of University Professors and Lecturers named him "Teacher of the Year" for 2014.

Diversity Report

Read the annual report on campus-wide diversity efforts targeting both prospective and continuing underrepresented students at the University.

2014 Annual Report

2013 Annual Report

2012 Annual Report

Contact Us

Diversity (0208)

1664 N. Virginia Street

Reno, NV 89557

Phone (775) 784-4805

Fax (775) 784-6429

Clark Administration, Room 200

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