Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Society for Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) gathered at UMass Boston on Saturday April 9th to hold its third New England Regional SACNAS Conference. More than 110 participants from 18 different institutions (colleges, universities and government organizations) gathered at the Integrated Science Complex to celebrate science, community and culture. Organizer of the regional conference, Dr. Adán Colón-Carmona from the Biology Department, opened the gathering with a warm welcome to the campus, encouraging all participants to socialize and share one’s science.

The conference included a collection of scientific speakers who spoke on topics ranging from health disparities to climate change, to molecular and cellular biology. A number of professional development workshops were also offered to participants, such as grant writing, applying to graduate school and mentoring relationships. Undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and faculty had opportunities to network and mentor one another.

The keynote speaker, Dr. David Burgess (Cherokee) professor of biology at Boston College, discussed his experience as a cell biologist and one of only few Native American scientists. He motivated conference participants to pursue a career one loves to do, to be proud of oneself, and not settle until one has achieved great success.

SACNAS is one of the largest and oldest national societies of scientists dedicated to fostering the success of Latinos and Native American scientists to attain college degrees, careers and positions of leadership in all science fields (http://sacnas.org/).  Additionally, SACNAS is a strong promoter of diversity in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields, organizing conferences open to everyone, providing mentoring and recruiting resources, promoting the professional development of young scientists, and working collaboratively with other scientific societies, corporations, academic institutions, and government agencies to advance public policy agendas that enhance diversity in the sciences.

The conference was sponsored by UMass Boston, the UMass Boston-Dana Farber/Harvard Cancer Center U54 Partnership, and the National Research Mentoring Network (https://nrmnet.net/).