Reaching out to Hispanic, Native-American, and other minority students
Ericka Reid, Ph.D., director of the NIEHS Office of Science Education and Diversity (OSED), and postdoctoral fellow Anshul Pandya, Ph.D., represented NIEHS at the 2012 Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) (https://sacnas.org/) National Conference Oct. 11-14. The conference, (https://sacnas.org/civicrm/event/info?reset=1&id=42) titled “Science, Diversity, and Technology for a Healthy World,” was held in Seattle, Wash., and attracted talented students of Native American and minority backgrounds from around the country.
Connecting with young scientists
NIEHS, along with other NIH institutes and public and private universities, encourages Hispanic/Chicano and Native American students to pursue higher education and obtain advanced degrees. With more than 3,600 students in attendance, the NIEHS representatives focused on spreading awareness about NIEHS among the students. Along with Reid and Pandya, NIEHS Office of Communications and Public Liaison Director Christine Flowers was on hand at the NIEHS booth in the exhibition hall, where students looking for future opportunities in science research, including internships and fellowships, could ask questions and pick up information about the Institute and its research.
“It was a rewarding experience for me to talk to young students of minority backgrounds,” said Reid, who is working to enhance NIEHS’ education and diversity outreach. “The [NIH] Summer Internship Program was a popular topic, and I’m hopeful that interest will translate into an increase in the number of applicants from different states.”
Graduate students and Ph.D. candidates inquired about career opportunities available at NIEHS. “As an intramural postdoctoral fellow at the NIEHS, I was asked about my own experience of working at the NIEHS,” said Pandya, who is a member of the NIEHS Ion Channel Physiology Group. “I was able to tell undergraduate and graduate students about the research training and career opportunities available at our Institute.”
Pandya added, “This year I noticed some anxiety among students regarding their education and future careers. I thought it was a reflection of the economy and employment picture for fresh graduates out of college.” Pandya was attending his second SACNAS conference, as a part of NIEHS outreach and diversity efforts. Those who visited the NIEHS booth also learned about the exciting research being carried out in the intramural division of the NIEHS, and the funding opportunities and grants available,” he added.
“Meeting students face-to-face not only increases the public profile of the Institute, but it also spreads awareness about government-funded environmental and health research,” said Reid.