DPC Creates Virtual Research Symposium to Support Student Research Presentations During COVID-19 Shutdowns

Share this posting on social media!

Contact Info: christa.reynolds@nih.gov

By Christa Reynolds

From Monday, April 27, 2020, to Friday, May 1, 2020, BUILD Scholars from across the Diversity Program Consortium participated in the first DPC Virtual Research Symposium.

Every year, BUILD Scholars engage in research experiences and later present on their findings during conferences. This dual experience enables students to develop important skills that will help them in their future careers as scientists and researchers, as well as providing them an opportunity to contribute to their scientific fields.

Unfortunately, during spring of 2020, the students were facing a series of unique challenges as their communities, universities and families adjusted to the realities of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Conference travel was largely cancelled or changed to a virtual format, and classes began transitioning to remote learning.

To offer students an opportunity to present on the research they were planning to share during the spring conference season, the DPC came together to organize a virtual research symposium. In her opening statement, the Director of the Division of Training, Workforce Development and Diversity at NIGMS Alison Gammie, Ph.D., wrote, “These challenging times have been a reminder of how fortunate we are to be part of a national consortium with the goal of creating and sustaining an inclusive biomedical research workforce.”

The week-long DPC Virtual Research Symposium consisted of an opening session with a keynote speech by Gammie and oral presentations by students on Monday, April 27. Tuesday and Wednesday highlighted the virtual poster hall. The poster hall consisted of 76 posters in a new website designed by the DPC Coordination and Evaluation Center (CEC). More students shared oral research presentations on Thursday and Friday. Keith Norris, M.D., Ph.D, CEC Principal Investigator, shared closing remarks during the last session on Friday.

A total of 16 students from eight BUILD sites shared oral presentations, representing a variety of scientific specialties, including biological, physical, social, health, engineering and computer sciences. Over 300 people attended the four presentation sessions, and thousands interacted with the website and social media content.

Attendees commented on the high quality of the students’ presentations, and their skill in answering audience questions. “Our collective spirit can be lifted as we join to recognize the valuable contributions of our students, faculty and staff. As we honor this work, we can celebrate ways to stay connected through virtual spaces,” Norris said.

The CEC has compiled a toolkit and technical report for the internal DPC community. The report and toolkit will be available to the public soon at the DPC website.

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.
Need Assistance? Please contact our support team: info@diversityprogramconsortium.org .