2023 SACNAS National Diversity in STEM Conference Recap

Oregon Convention Center Photo, NDi STEM conference

I attended the 2023 Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) National Diversity in STEM conference on behalf of the SCHEQ Foundation that was held in Portland, OR from October 26 – 28, 2023 at the Oregon Convention Center. This was the 50th Anniversary of SACNAS and there was a lot of energy, community, authenticity, and support throughout the event. This year’s event had more than 6,500 attendees, with keynote speakers, awards, poster competitions, training programs, celebrations, and mentorship. There was a lot of energy and excitement abound. The exhibit hall was enormous, and no one should have had any problems hitting 10,000 steps per day. I also was able to connect with my friends from Portland, OHSU, OFDIR, and other colleagues during the meeting.

SACNAS Band Image

I will highlight three programs/events that I participated in.

NSF Postdoctoral Fellows PRFB Broadening Participation Workshop

There was an in-person event for the 2022 NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellowships in Biology (PRFB) which seeks to increase participation of groups that are historically underrepresented in biology. I participated in the ‘Developing Skills for Advanced Careers in Biology for NSF 2022 Cohort’ workshop. I  mentored and met with awardees during the lunch session, and I was one of three LPSLI alumni (below) speakers that spoke during the afternoon. These speakers represented academic, industry, and nonprofit careers. My presentation covered how I grew up, my career path, skill development, mentoring, outreach, overcoming barriers, and my previous nonprofit roles. Upon prompting, I highlighted things that one needs to do when considering launching a nonprofit organization.

Linton-Poodry SACNAS Postdoc Leadership Institute (PLI) and Leadership Institute (LPSLI)

I was able to meet up with many of the participants from my 2023 LPSLI cohort that did the program this summer at Howard Hughes Medical Institute. We also received our 2023LPSLI pins, which were hand-made and hand-beaded, at a reception that includes alumni from all previous LPSLI cohorts. The 2023 PLI cohort also had their program occur during the main conference for postdocs that show strong leadership potential. Several LPSLI alumni also attended the event, and we met with the scholars during lunch. It was great to see what many of them have accomplished, and their future goals and objectives.

Pawnee Feathers artwork
2023 LPSLI Alumni Photo

One-on-one mentoring

This was the first time that I was able to participate in the SACNAS one-on-one mentoring program. This is a 1-hour session where each mentor meets with 2 graduate students (30 minutes each). There were probably about 60-100 tables set up, and it was quite an adventure to find that room. It did not show up on a sign until you almost arrived, and by that point, you may have thought you went the wrong way. There was so much interest that there was an overflow line in case people did not make it on time. It was great to see their ideas and give them advice on how to navigate their next steps in their careers. It was also good to be able to help them think about how to do future applications, preparing for transitions, and groups and people that they should meet.

There were many great sessions about professional development, bringing your authentic self to the table, and empowering the next generation of scholars. Everyone left the meeting very fulfilled. I am looking forward to next year’s meeting which will be held in Phoenix, AZ.