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This fall, dozens of undergraduate participants in the Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity (BUILD) programs, as well as mentors and mentees from the National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN) initiatives, attended two exciting national conferences supporting diversity in the sciences—the 2018 SACNAS National Diversity in STEM Conference in San Antonio, Texas, and the 2018 Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS) in Indianapolis, Indiana.
BUILD and NRMN participants across a variety of disciplines presented their research at the conferences and several won awards.
Both conferences included programming provided by the Diversity Program Consortium (DPC). The DPC is made up of the BUILD initiative, the NRMN and the Coordination and Evaluation Center (CEC). The events, titled “Diversifying the Biomedical Scientific ‘Thinkforce’ Through Training and Partnerships” promoted community, informed attendees about the DPC and provided networking opportunities inside and outside the BUILD and NRMN initiatives.
Alison Gammie, Ph.D., who is the DPC program leader and Director of the Division of Training, Workforce Development and Diversity at the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), gave TED-talk style presentations at both conferences. Gammie talked about the important role of diversity in the biomedical research workforce to bring different perspectives, creativity, and individual interests to address complex scientific problems. She also talked about the importance of fairness and access in the STEM fields and the opportunities STEM can provide for underrepresented groups.
“Everyone in our society should have the opportunity to experience the excitement, freedom, and enhanced opportunities afforded by being a member of the scientific community,” Gammie said.
Gammie also highlighted how academia offers opportunities to impact generations of scientists.
“You have no idea how much you can help people in the academic setting, mentoring and teaching and helping them on their career path taking them to the next level,” Gammie said during her presentation. “The satisfaction is immense, you really get to interact with your students… that’s something that is undersold in the difference between medicine and academia.”
At both events, the DPC hosted panelists of professors, researchers and graduates of NIGMS training programs. They shared their experiences on how they got into doing research, what obstacles they had to overcome, and advice on how to succeed as biomedical researchers.
Amanda Roberts, a Ph.D. student from the University of North Texas Health Science Center, participated in the sessions during SACNAS. She shared about her positive mentoring experience as an NRMN mentee and answered questions from undergraduates and graduate students who were interested in mentorship.
“The [DPC event] inspired me to continue my career path in becoming a biomedical scientist,” Roberts wrote in a piece for the NRMN. “Overall I truly enjoyed my first SACNAS conference experience. I increased my professional network, inspired the next group of scientists as mentor judge and as a NRMN panel member. In addition, I learned valuable tools to catalyze my professional development in becoming an independent biomedical research scientist.”
For more photos, check out our Flickr.
The Diversity Program Consortium Coordination and Evaluation Center at UCLA is supported by Office of the Director of the National Institutes of Health / National Institutes of General Medical Sciences under award number U54GM119024.