For Immediate Release


Yvonne M. Psaila

Director of Marketing & Communications

Keystone Symposia on Molecular & Cellular Biology

+ 1 970-262-2676



Keystone Symposia Announces Appointment of Dr. Irelene Ricks as Director of Diversity in Life Science Programs


SILVERTHORNE, CO – September 1, 2015 – Keystone Symposia on Molecular and Cellular Biology is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Irelene Ricks as Director of Diversity in Life Science Programs for the 45-year-old nonprofit educational organization. In her new role, Dr. Ricks will oversee such initiatives as the Keystone Symposia Fellows Program, the Underrepresented Scholarship and Early-Career Investigator Travel Award programs, and additional mentoring programs that take place in connection with Keystone Symposia’s life science research conferences. Keystone Symposia established its diversity initiatives in 2008 with an initial grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. An accomplished educator, Dr. Ricks will have an opportunity to apply her knowledge and experience to expand and improve Keystone Symposia’s programs to enhance diversity in life science.


Dr. Ricks has served in a variety of roles over the past few years, primarily involving educational advising and program implementation in the Washington DC area. Most recently before joining Keystone Symposia, Dr. Ricks was Program Advisor for the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU). She advised AASCU member institutions on how to secure funding opportunities with the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Her additional past experience includes serving as Program Manager in the Office of Education at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), where she helped to lead the Education Partnership Program, a minority program designed to provide funding support to Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) and students enrolled at MSIs. She also served as Director of Minority Affairs at the American Society for Cell Biology. In that role she designed and managed undergraduate through early-career programs for individuals from underrepresented populations including a new postdoctoral training program, and she also secured funding from the NSF for online-based training and education for MSIs and rural colleges and universities that lack exposure to prominent scientists.  


Dr. Ricks is an adjunct faculty member at Johns Hopkins University in the School of Education where she teaches an online course on grants and contracts to medical research professionals. She was previously an adjunct faculty member at Howard University and worked there as Grants Administrator for the Graduate School earlier in her career. In March 2014, Dr. Ricks was recognized by Diverse Issues magazine as one of the top 30 female educators in the United States.


Dr. Ricks is deeply committed to increasing underrepresented participation in higher eduction and the sciences. She has served on various advisory committees for minority affairs including the Collaborative for Enhancing Diversity in Science (CEDS). A native of the Washington, D.C. area, Dr. Ricks received her Bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University and Ph.D. from Howard University. She is enjoying her move to the mountains of Colorado, where Keystone Symposia is based, and experiencing a new area of the country.


According to Dr. Jane Peterson, President and CEO of Keystone Symposia, “We are delighted to welcome Dr. Irelene Ricks as our new Director of Diversity. She brings an impressive array of experience and accomplishment in the STEM and diversity arenas that will significantly help us increase participation of underrepresented researchers both at Keystone Symposia conferences and within the life science community more broadly.”


Added Dr. Ricks, “I am thrilled with the opportunity to develop a new generation of biomedical and bioengineering researchers as Keystone Fellows and to advance the other Keystone Symposia diversity initiatives. The name ‘Keystone’ is associated with scientific excellence, and the opportunity to expose emerging underrepresented researchers is both a great responsibility and privilege. It is my sincere desire to imagine a world in which scientists of all backgrounds unite with a single mission: the development of exemplary scientific research to improve the lives and health of people all over the world. To me, that Is the essence of Keystone Symposia and it is the reason why I was honored to accept this position.”



About Keystone Symposia on Molecular and Cellular Biology


Keystone Symposia, founded in 1972, is a nonprofit organization convening scientific conferences.. It has been headquartered in Silverthorne, Colorado, USA since 1990 and is directed by a volunteer board of internationally acclaimed scientists.


The organization convenes 50-60 open, international research conferences each year in diverse areas ranging from cancer and immunology to metabolic disease and neurobiology. More information on the organization and its conferences can be found at and, respectively.


More information about Keystone Symposia’s Diversity in Life Sciences Programs can be found at