Rebekah Burke

Rebekah Burke.

Photo credit: University at Buffalo

Published July 8, 2020

Each month, we'll introduce you to an interesting member of the Professional Staff Senate. This month's featured member is Rebekah Burke from the Institute for Research and Education on Women and Gender.

How long have you worked at UB?


I have worked at the University at Buffalo for over fifteen years. I presently work in the Institute for Research and Education on Women and Gender, colloquially known as the Gender Institute.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

What I enjoy most about my job is being able to work with people from three different campuses.

What is the most difficult part about your job?

One of the most difficult parts of my job is making decisions as to what to support. There are so many important campus initiatives and collaborations brought to our offices’ attention.

What would you say is your biggest achievement at UB?

I would have to say my role in helping form the Women in STEM Cooperative. We work to help encourage and support women and underrepresented minority students to enter and persevere in STEM fields. We hope to bridge the STEM gap through cultural inclusion and educational opportunity.

The UB Women in STEM Cooperative (WiSC) was established in 2013 by an interdisciplinary coalition of women volunteers from across the University at Buffalo, who pooled our resources together to benefit other women and underrepresented minority students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

We hold an annual summit, host webinars on timely topics and research, and host events highlighting student research, where the students are given an opportunity to explain their research to those who may not be in their field. This provided the students with coaching and experience to develop an “elevator pitch” for their job search, grant applications and/or further educational career. We have expanded our community over the past several years to include other sister educational institutions such as Cornell, Harvard and the University of Arizona. Our Women in STEM Webinars titled, “Helping STEM Students Thrive” have reached 56 institutions of higher learning in 25 states within the US, four other countries and one territory, recordings from the series can be found here:

Tell us something about your department that isn’t well known.

Our office has a relationship with every unit within UB and the greater community. We are a hub for facilitating interdisciplinary collaborations across disciplines. One such collaboration we facilitated between the School of Social Work faculty and the Dean of the School of Engineering resulted in the funding of a NSF grant.

If you were to share some advice for other professional staff, what would it be?

My advice would be to get involved, on campus, with the life of the campus, with the PSS and all the important initiatives they champion through their committees. This will facilitate making connections with other staff already at the university to learn best practices, the ways the university functions and broaden your horizons.

Do you have any hobbies? What do you do for fun?

I love to read and garden. Since graduating with my MS in Information and Library Science in Feb 2019, I have been assisting two community organizations with digitizing their archives and putting their items up on the NY Heritage website. The Buffalo Broadcasters Association’s (BBA) collection is the first fully audiovisual collection on the website. I have also been assisting the BBA in the process of establishing their Archive and Resource Center. It has been a joy to help this come to fruition, but it has cut into any extra time for hobbies. 

Do you have a favorite meal you like to prepare?

I have a recipe given to me by our realtor when we moved in to our home, some years ago. It involves sausage, peppers, instant wild rice and a little bit of heat. I always make corn bread with it to balance the heat and add a little sweetness to the dish. As my mom was from the south and made it regularly, it reminds me of her and is a favorite quick sweet treat.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?

I would love to go to Istanbul. I love the food, the culture, and being a history buff, the extensive history of the city and region.

Any other fun facts about you?

I grew up in Brooklyn and can do a true accent on demand (forget about it). In addition, having a mother from the south, I can also reproduce a pretty good southern drawl ya’ll.