ECE Seminar Lecture Series

Cultural Tax: The Cost of Being the Only or the Few

Dr. Tyrone Porter, University of Texas at Austin

Wednesday, December 2, 2020
Noon–1 p.m. Passcode: 066310

It is no secret that persons of color are poorly represented in STEM academic programs and professions.  Moreover, there is a racial hierarchy that exists in America, which has led to racial inequities in policing, healthcare, education, and leadership positions. These inequities and the struggle for dismantling the racial hierarchy disproportionately burdens persons of color, both inside and outside the academic and professional setting.  Known as a cultural tax, these burdens impose a variety of stresses on students and professionals of color including emotional trauma and financial anxiety, which adversely affect confidence, academic performance, productivity, and well-being. Throughout my graduate education and professional career, I have been the only or one of the few persons of color in my department and I have endured this tax on countless occasions.  In this talk, I will provide an overview of the source of these burdens in a historical context and offer suggestions on how institutions can better support persons of color and significantly reduce the cultural tax. 

Dr. Tyrone Porter joined The University of Texas at Austin in August 2020 as a Professor of Biomedical Engineering. A native of Detroit, MI and an alumnus of Prairie View A&M University, Dr. Porter earned his Ph.D. in Bioengineering at the University of Washington in 2003. He was awarded the Frederick V. Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship by the Acoustical Society of America (ASA) and completed his training at the University of Cincinnati.  He started his academic career in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Boston University (BU) where he was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure in 2012.  As a member of the BU community, Dr. Porter held several leadership positions, including Associate Director for the Nanotechnology Innovation Center and Co-Director for the NIH-funded Translational Research in Biomaterials doctoral training program.  Dr. Porter has made significant contributions to the use of ultrasound for noninvasive ablation of solid tumors, permeabilizing biological interfaces for drug delivery, and triggering drug release from stimuli-responsive nanocarriers.  For these accomplishments, Dr. Porter received the R. Bruce Lindsay award from the ASA in 2008 and became a Fellow of the ASA in 2017. A staunch advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion in STEM disciplines, Dr. Porter was appointed an inaugural Faculty Fellow for Diversity and Inclusion in Graduate Education at Boston University and has spoken nationally on the topic. Recently, he was appointed Chair of the Committee for Improving Racial Diversity and Inclusivity within the ASA, which is spearheading efforts to attract and embrace students, scholars, and professionals within the society and the acoustics field.