STEM BUILD at UMBC Celebrates Its First Cohort of Graduates

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This spring, nine current and former University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) STEM BUILD trainees, three who also affiliated with the MARC U*STAR Scholars, became the first cohort of BUILD Training Program (BTP) participants to graduate from UMBC. These graduates follow in the footsteps of Alexis Waller ’18, biological sciences, who was the first to graduate this past December. 

The accomplishments of these graduates and 14 other program completers were highlighted at the first annual BTP Trainee Recognition Celebration at UMBC on May 8. The freshly-minted alumni are headed for great things, including graduate school at top-tier institutions, post-baccalaureate programs, and unique summer experiences. Here are just a few highlights.

Joanna Lum ’19, biological sciences

In 2016, the summer after her first year at UMBC as a BUILD Trainee, Joanna Lum interned at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy. “Before this experience, I had no idea what working in a lab was like, let alone considering it as a career,” she shared in 2017, but “after spending eight consecutive weeks learning and asking questions in the lab, I began loving what I was doing, and I started seeing myself doing this in the future.” After that, Lum pursued further lab experience with Erin Green, assistant professor of biological sciences, which only furthered her passion for biomedical research.

In spring 2019, during a poster presentation at UMBC’s Undergraduate Research and Creative Achievement Day (URCAD), Lum expressed appreciation for the authentic research experiences she had gained in the Green lab. “I see what I'm doing in the lab is contributing to the mission of the lab as a whole," Lum said. "Even more so, I see the impact it can have in the real world."

As she begins graduate studies toward a Ph.D. at the University of Michigan this fall, Lum will carry with her the support she received from BUILD and, in her last two years at UMBC, the MARC U*STAR Scholars. Because of that support, “not only am I able to overcome many obstacles in the classroom and in the STEM field, I am also able to grow in confidence and see myself as a scientist.”

Congratulations, Joanna!


Carl BannermanCarl Bannerman ’19, biological sciences

Carl Bannerman transferred to UMBC from the Community College of Baltimore County. In his first year at UMBC, Bannerman was a BUILD Trainee before transitioning to the MARC U*STAR Scholars for his senior year. His experiences with strong support in these communities contributed to his future goals in research and mentoring.

"Research is the foundation of knowledge in our world," said Bannerman, speaking at URCAD 2019 on research he conducted at Johns Hopkins University on cell migration. "Adding to that knowledge in a way that can contribute to treating diseases is exciting."

Bannerman intends to complete a post-baccalaureate program before applying to M.D./Ph.D. programs. “I aspire to become a professor at a research university to help mentor the next generation of scientists, especially ones underrepresented in the scientific community,” he said. 

“Thank you so much for the opportunity to be in BTP. I made a lot of friends and met a lot of my hopefully lifelong mentors through this program. BUILD also sparked my interest in research and for that I am eternally grateful.”

Congratulations, Carl!


Aleem MohamedAleem Mohamed ’19, biological sciences

Aleem Mohamed dived right in as a BUILD Trainee with Summer Bridge and the Phage Hunters group research experience. “It helped us transition from high school to college,” he said in fall 2016. “It also gave us a friend group. We all support each other like a big family.”

That support helped him land a position as an HHMI-SEA Undergraduate Researcher working with HHMI investigator Viknesh Sivanathan. That experience “has made me develop a love for the research field I didn’t know I had, and has made me want to do research in my career,” Mohamed said in fall 2018.

Now Mohamed is applying to M.D. and D.O. programs with the goal to start in the summer or fall of 2020. This summer he has other plans. While working daily with children at UMBC day camp, Mohamed will also be working with Sivanathan to “teach faculty from across the nation research that we have been doing so they can implement it as an undergraduate level course at their respective universities,” he shared. After that, he’ll be teaching an Emergency Medical Technician class and continuing to conduct research as he applies for professional programs.

Congratulations, Aleem!

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.
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