A group of NRMN staff attended the 2015 Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS), which took place November 11th through 14th at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle.
ABRCMS is the largest professional conference for minority students pursuing advanced training in science, technology, engineering, medicine and mathematics (STEMM). ABRCMS attendance has grown each year since the first Conference in 2001, with 2015 seeing well over 3,300 individuals, including 1,700 undergraduate students, 400 graduate students and postdoctoral scientists and 1200 faculty, program directors and administrators. Students come from over 350 U.S. colleges and universities. All are pursuing advanced training in STEMM, and many have conducted independent research. The conference is designed to encourage underrepresented minority students to their pursuit of advanced training in their field, and to provide faculty mentors and advisors with resources for facilitating students.
NRMN appeared throughout the conference agenda, with faculty such as Dr. Jamboor Vishwanatha (Principal Investigator of NRMN’s Mentorship and Networking Core) and Dr. Harlan Jones (program director of the NRMN Professional Development Core’s NRMN-STAR grant writing coaching program) giving formal presentations about the new and exciting mentorship initiatives offered through NRMN.
Staff from the NRMN Mentorship and Networking Core (at University of North Texas Health Science Center), Professional Development Core (at University of Minnesota) and Administrative Core (Boston College) also represented NRMN throughout the event’s conference hall hours from November 12th through the 14th, where they had an official presence at the booth of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NRMN’s grant-awarding Institute of the NIH) and were able to interact with students during scientific poster presentation sessions.
NRMN representatives spoke with the 3,600+ conference attendees, providing more information about NRMN and navigating them to register their profile on the NRMNet.net website, where users can access NRMN’s virtual mentoring program and discover opportunities to participate in other NRMN programming.
The conference agenda featured presentations by the National Institutes of Health, including a talk by NIH’s Chief Officer for Scientific Workforce Diversity Hannah Valantine, M.D. where she invited attendees to get involved with NRMN and join the national movement to foster diversity within the U.S. health science workforce.
Evening activities during the conference included a meeting on November 12th where NRMN and supporting staff from the National Institutes of Health facilitated group discussions among 58 Scholars from ASCEND (at Morgan State University), BUILD at Xavier (at Xavier University at Louisiana), and CSULB BUILD (at California State University Long Beach), three of ten participating university programs within the NIH Diversity Program Consortium’s BUILD program, which promotes inclusion through mentorship programming for undergraduate students in STEMM fields. The group broke out into seated circles and participated in activities ranging from “icebreakers” where students introduced themselves and their interests, to a sharing of aspirational statements where students discussed their dreams for the future, from founding a hospital to analyzing the intersection of medicine and religion to advancing nanotechnology within the biomedical sciences.
The attending BUILD Scholars expressed excitement over the opportunity to attend ABRCMS as part of the BUILD program, and discussed the possibility of arranging such group sharing meetings formally at future scientific conferences.