Our History

Find out more about the SACNAS 40th Anniversary Celebration


The Creation Story

Legend says that SACNAS was founded in an elevator at an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) meeting in the early '70s. At that time, there were only a handful of Native American and Chicano scientists in the U.S., and most of them had converged to attend the AAAS meeting. After attending a networking event, they all got into the elevator together. One looked around and joked, "If this elevator crashes, it will wipe out the entire population of Chicano and Native American scientists!" Since 1973, our SACNAS family has grown from the number of people who can fit into an elevator to over 25,000 SACNISTAs (members, partners, and friends).

SACNAS Founders

Nearly 40 years ago, the founders of SACNAS were trailblazers. Many of them were the first people in their communities to receive PhDs in science, the first Hispanics/Chicanos and Native Americans to be hired in their departments, and the first mentors for a new generation of Hispanic/Chicano and Native American scientists. Over the years, SACNAS and its founders have flourished. Founders are now leaders at federal scientific agencies, tenured full professors, and university deans. Along with early conference attendees, former presidents, and past board members, a significant number of founding members are actively involved in the work of SACNAS today.

Historical Context

SACNAS emerged alongside the Chicano and American Indian movements. At that time, advanced science degrees were few and far between. Over 15,000 PhDs in science and engineering were granted in 1975, but only 151 were granted to Hispanics and 13 to Native Americans. Early initiatives included nationwide networking, securing funding, and organizing the first SACNAS conference in 1978.

SACNAS Overview

Read the summary of SACNAS' 40 year history and the genesis of the SACNAS logo:

Awards and Recognitions

SACNAS was recognized as the nation’s premier minority science organization when it was awarded the 2002 National Science Board's Public Service Award for our contribution to the scientific community. In 2004, the organization also received the national Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM) for our mentoring work and ability to effectively increase underrepresented minority participation at all levels in science, math, and engineering.