Dr. Brooks has enhanced diversity and inclusion in STEM by creating new training opportunities for students from underrepresented groups

UC Santa Cruz Genomics Institute | June 22, 2020

As a splicing specialist, Angela Brooks’s goal is to identify weaknesses in the cancer genome. As a research community member, Brooks’s goals include building strength through diversity.

In her new position as Director of Diversity for the Genomics Institute, which started March 2, Dr. Brooks will continue advocating for diversity in genomics research, leading and building research organizations that are models of UCSC community values.

A Pew Scholar, Brooks is an expert in the analysis of RNA sequencing data and is especially interested in the role of RNA splicing in gene expression. Brooks co-led a research group in the Pan-cancer Analysis of Whole Genomes (Pan-cancer Analysis of Whole Genomes (PCAWG) project, which contributed to the analysis of more than 2,600 genomes of 38 different tumor types, creating a huge resource of primary cancer genomes. Brooks’s Pan-Cancer research focused on changes in gene expression revealed by sequencing the RNA molecules in cancer cells in addition to the DNA sequences that are the focus of most cancer genomics studies. 

When The Scientist magazine named her “A Scientist to Watch” in 2017, Brooks emphasized that beyond her lab work, she is also passionate about promoting diversity in research. “I think that’s another big goal I have: To increase the diversity of the data we have, but also to help include scientists from diverse populations to study these genomes.” 

Brooks has enhanced diversity and inclusion in STEM at UC Santa Cruz by creating new training opportunities for students from underrepresented groups, collaborating with the UCSC Graduate Division to create a summer research training program for students from Southern University Baton Rouge, a historically black university, and leading and mentoring a highly diverse team of graduate and undergraduate student researchers. 

Brooks is recognized in the Santa Cruz community as a top cancer researcher and a champion of diversity and inclusion on campus. She is a recipient of a grant by the Santa Cruz Cancer Benefit Group (SCCBG), a local charity supporting cancer research as well as the Chancellor’s Achievement Awards for Diversity.

Scientific Director David Haussler said “I have had the pleasure of getting to know Dr. Brooks over the years and I am very pleased that she will be leading the way for the Genomics Institute to be a more diverse and inclusive organization. Our goal is to recruit and hire from a wider pool of diverse talent and further implement UC Santa Cruz’s Principals of Community to create a better research environment.”