Board of Director Voting Opens Tuesday, October 20, 2020!
Continue below to learn more about each candidate before placing your vote.
General Board Member Candidates
Juan F. Arratia, PhD
Institution/Company: Scientific Caribbean Foundation
Ethnicity/Race: Other Latino/a (Caribbean, Central, or South American)
How long have you been a SACNAS member? Professional member; 7 or more years
After taking my students from Puerto Rico to the Annual SACNAS Meetings and seeing the effect in their motivation to pursue graduate studies and networking with students from across the country, I became a SACNISTA, as such, I would like to help the organization to reach new segment of students to have a positive experience and expand the pipeline from pre-college to PhD for economically disadvantage minorities (Hispanic, African American and Native American) in the country. During my tenure as a PI at the MIE in Puerto Rico we developed an afterschool research program “Saturday Research Academy (SRA),” where we mentored high school students, grade 9 to 12, on Saturdays. The SRA met four hours on Saturdays, and for 16 weeks during the Fall and Spring semesters. Pre-college were mentored by me and student assistants in STEM-C projects. We introduced the participants into the research cycle, tough them search techniques, how to read scientific literature, design abstracts, produce a scientific poster, and how to disseminate their research findings in local and national conferences. During the summer we sent the best performers to a six-week research program at top research institutions like: MIT, UCLA, UTEP, NCSU, WU, UVM, NCAR, LBNL. My proposition for SACNAS is to offer travel grants for 100 pre-college to attend the 2021 SACNAS Annual Meeting. I will organize the program, mentor the pre-college, write grants to NSF, NASA, NIH, Foundations and private donors to fund this new program at SACNAS.
My contact with SACNAS started in the year 1999, we started sending students from Universidad Metropolitana (UMET) to the SACNAS Annual Meetings. Over 100 MIE scholars participated in the research presentations. We got best poster presentations for a good number of students like: Luisa Zambrano, Astronomy-Physics, Alburquerque, New Mexico (2003); Karla Hernandez, Chemistry, Yanine Rosario, Computer Science, Iris Olmeda, Cellular Molecular Biology, and Luisa Zambrano, Applied Physics, Austin, Texas (2004); Carlos Diaz, Chemistry, and Mathematics, Denver, Colorado (2005); Jose Alejandro Vega, Biological Sciences, and Dalvin Mendez, Chemistry, Tampa, Florida (2006); Cristina Tatis, Immunology, Kansas City, Kansas (2007); Jesselyn Calderon, Environmental Sciences, and Paul Nieves, Chemistry, Salt Lake City (2008); Emanuel Hernandez, Engineering, Dallas Texas (2009); Iva Moreno, Environmental Sciences, Anaheim, California (2010); Ramon Cardona and Joaquin Pockels, Computer Science, Dayanara Lebron, Applied Mathematics, Gabriel Porrata, Chemistry, and Jean Carlos Rivera, Engineering, San Jose, California (2011). The SACNAS Annual Meetings were a great contribution to the MIE Scholars, there, they found connection to graduate school, mentors willing to help them in the application process and in general peers from different universities across the US mainland. With the motivation of the MIE Scholars we founded the SUAGM-SACNAS Chapter to motivate other Puerto Rican students to participate in research-oriented activities within the SACNAS community. Personally, the SACNAS Annual Meetings help me to connect with the Native American community and advice African American students from Bowie State University, Spelman and Xevier University of Louisiana to present their research projects at the SACNAS Annual Conferences.
Mentoring students from diverse background has been my main goal, since I became the PI of the Model Institutions for Excellence (MIE) NSF grant at UMET, 22 years ago. I learned to appreciate diversity by working with African American from Spelman College. I was the mentor and coordinator for an 8 weeks international summer research program in Europe (France, Spain and Germany), South Africa and Taiwan for junior and senior students from Spelman College. The mentors were Fulbright Scholars from those countries who were related to my international network of scientists. By given those opportunities to Spelman’ students I understood the quality of their research work and commitment to pursue graduate degrees. Since their research projects were very competitive, I advise them to present at SACNAS and other national conferences. A similar research mentoring program with Native American from Oglala Lakota College was implemented at the Universidad del Norte, Antofagasta, Chile with research mentor Dr. Luis Barrera, an astronomer with connectivity to ESO facilities in the Atacama Desert. The most impacting program for economically disadvantaged Puerto Rican students was the mentoring of thousands of pre-college and undergraduate from Universidad Metropolitana under the MIE grant. We organize a pipeline for these students from pre-college to PhD. We are very happy with the outcomes of the MIE grant impacting over 2,000 pre-college and over 1,000 undergraduates and graduating over 350 BS, 80 MS and 70 PhD in STEM-C fields. A major achievement for UMET and partner institutions of the MIE grant.
My track record in fundraising top over 85 million over the last 25 years. The grants awarded were: (1) Model Institutions for Excellence, NSF grants for $30.5 million dollars for ten years (1998-2008); (2) NSF-AGMUS Institute of Mathematics, NSF grant for $2.1 million dollars (2008-2013); (3) Caribbean Computing Center for Excellence (CCCE), NSF grant for $2.3 million dollars (2009-2012); (4) MRI-Advanced Modular Incoherent Scatter Radar (AMISR), NSF grant for $2.3 million dollars (2010-2018); (5) Administration of Arecibo Observatory, NSF grant for $52 million dollars (2011-2018); (6) Spanish Research Council (CSIC), grant for 85,000 Euros for research experiences for undergraduates and graduates students from Puerto Rico, (2006-2013); (7) Supplemental grants from NSF Division for $55,000 for an outreach program in Atmospheric Sciences, a planning visit to China and Japan and an REU site in Astronomical Sciences in Chile (2002-2003); (8) supplemental grants from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) for $1.15 million for four years (2001-2004), (9) Institute of International Education, Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence Program, grant for $120,000 to support one Brazilian scholar at UMET for one year (2004-2005). (10) A Dwight D. Eisenhower Mathematics and Science Education, a grant for $30,000 for a summer institute for teacher training in mathematics and computer science during the summer of 1993; (11) Miscellaneous grants from Universidad Técnica del Estado and CORFO-Chile for $10,000 for modelling of industrial systems. My contribution to SACNAS will be to write grants for expanding the travel grants for pre-college with research presentations at the Annual SACNAS Meetings.
According to my understanding a SACNAS board member must have the highest standard in ethical conduct with members of the SACNAS community, including but not limited to students, faculty, university officials, administrative personnel, partners, local, state and federal government officials, foundations, and donors. The SACNAS board member must have a plan to enhance the educational and administrative services to the SACNAS community. The SACNAS board member must have a strong background in scientific matters related to the frontier of STEM knowledge. THE SACNAS board member must be a leading mentor in STEM disciplines. The SACNAS board member must be committed to mentor economically disadvantaged minorities (Hispanic, African American and Native American) and be open to new ideas to enhance SACNAS’ services.
During the period 1973-1986 I was a faculty at the Department of Electrical Engineering at Universidad Técnica del Estado (UTE), Valdivia, Chile, and at the Department of Mathematics of Universidad Austral de Chile. During the period 1976-1979 I was the Founder and CEO of “Informatica Sur” a computer service company in Valdivia, Chile. During (1986-1998), I accepted a Visiting Professor Position at Inter American University, Adjoint Professor at Department of Electrical Engineering, Universidad de Puerto Rico, Mayaguez (1988-1998), and during (1998-2018) Research Professor of Ana G. Méndez University System in Puerto Rico I was PI and Director of several federal grants totaling over 85 million dollars in the areas of science, technology, engineering, mathematics and computer science (STEM-C), getting funds from NSF to support scientific research for economically disadvantage students from Puerto Rico. We were able to transform one Minority Serving Institution, UMET, and graduate over 300 BS, 70 MS y 65 doctoral degrees in STEM-C, in partnership with research institutions. In the year 2007, for mentoring services to minority students in Puerto Rico, the President of the United States awarded me, at the White House, the “Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Engineering and Mathematics Mentoring.” During the period 1987-1998 I was a consultant in advanced manufacturing for the pharmaceutical industry in Puerto Rico, Advanced Manufacturing Technology Manager at Medtronic Inc. Since 2014 he is the Founder and President of “Scientific Caribbean Foundation,” a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting early scientific research, among economically disadvantage students from the Caribbean.
During the MIE years (1998-2008) and until 2018 I had a very productive relation with the National Science Foundation (NSF). The relation was primarily with the Program Officer of the different grants (CCCE, AGMUS Institute of Mathematics, MRI-AMISR-LASER, Administration of Arecibo Observatory). The MIE grant was unique since it was a national grant with Hispanic institutions (UMET and UTEP), HBCU institutions (Spelman College, Bowie State University and Xavier University of Louisiana), Native American institution (Oglala Lakota College). I was the PI at UMET and in addition to the MIE institutions, I developed a partnership with major research institutions in the US and abroad. A partnership with the Department of Science of Technology of UMET allow me, and the MIE faculty, ten PhDs, to develop four new BS degree programs. BS in Cellular Molecular Biology, BS in Chemistry, BS in Environmental Science and BS in Physics, and the afterschool, Saturday Research Academy for pre-college. Also, I developed a partnership with Fulbright, for short visit to Puerto Rico of Fulbright Scholars from abroad in residency at research institutions in the US. More than 100 Fulbright Scholars from around the world visit Puerto Rico and gave scientific talks in STEM-C fields to MIE scholars. The CCCE grant gave as the opportunity to forge a partnership with institutions in Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands and research institutions in US mainland (University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez-Humacao, Interamerican University, San German-Metro, Polytechnic University, University of the Virgin Islands, NCSU, LLNL, ANL, MIT, USF, NCAR, among others).
Esequiel Barrera, MS (Zapotec)
Title: Director of Research Safety
Institution/Company: The University of Georgia
Ethnicity/Race: American Indian/Native American
How long have you been a SACNAS member? Lifetime member; 7 or more years
As a SACNAS Board Member, I would seek to strengthen the relationship with the national university diversity and Inclusion offices by encouraging them to sponsor a campus-wide SACNAS virtual annual conference registration at their school and allowing all their STEM students to attend. What I bring to the table is a working EHS professional who interacts with STEM researchers to form and bring the next wave of learning to our SACNAS community. Pay it forward and become another stone laid down on the paved road that my predecessors started yeas ago, and many of us have traveled and continue to follow to the land of missions fulfilled.
During a career of 25 years in the field of Environmental Health and Safety (EHS), I support and interact with all STEM disciplines. As the Office Director, I am a voting member of the Institutional Biosafety Committee, Research Safety Committee and STEM Building I & II design team. At a SACNAS conference in the late 1980s, I was inspired as an undergraduate to consider switching from pre-med to a science based career. In 2018-current, I am a SACNAS life-member and have been helping the organization in the capacity of scientific poster judge, applicant/project reviewer and student mentor.
Lead the way by example is the best policy to help form a motivated working team. As a director, I encourage staff to continue their education and note any office job vacancies will be filled by the best candidate. As a self-proclaimed problem solver, I often will ask questions to know more details surrounding a problem. The most memorable leadership trial was the month long audit by three inspectors from the Attorney General Office regarding my Select Agent program at UT Southwestern. On one point, the inspectors wanted to shut down a lab working with a purified toxin subunit outside of a registered space. I argued that a subunit is not the same as working with the whole intact toxin and thus not subject to the regulations. To settle the contention, we asked the Centers for Disease Control to making a ruling. The response was in my favor and the audit result yield no faults in the medical center’s Select Agent program. That day after the challenge and stress, I earned my commission as an EHS professional and team leader.
As a leader of the Knights of Columbus (Catholic Fraternity Non-Profit Organization) we preform any acts of charity from supporting the local food pantries, coats for kids, breakfast with Santa Claus, Veteran and Special Needs Advocacy Groups, etc., all acts of mercy. We conduct fundraisers all the time from selling foods and drinks at venues, patriotic flag give away donation events to attracting philanthropist to help our cause. See Board Leadership section for my fundraising idea.
I have read and accept the SACNAS Code of Ethics and responsibilities of a Board member. As a Life Member, I am dedicated to the success of the organization and stand behind the mission statement to increase minority representation in the STEM professions at the doctorate level. I want to be a positive role model to the others that follow.
As an EHS profession working in academic administration, I have many opportunities to lead or participant in working groups. I include a partial list: Office Emergency Preparedness (team representative for the Office of Research), Local Emergency Planning Committee (university voting representative), Business Continuity Committee (Office or Research representative) and Strategic Leadership Team (inter group liaison). In 2015-2017, I planned, secured and executed a regional Campus Safety, Health and Environmental Management Association (CSHEMA) conference at the University of Georgia, a campus first. Participants and administrators were pleased with the venue and often quoted as the best regional conference attended.
As a Biosafety Officer I was part of the formation of the New England American Biosafety Association and presented research findings at the national conference of the American Biosafety Association (ABSA). Later as an Chemical Safety Officer, I joined the university level discussion group at CSHEMA and the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA). In the early 2000s, I accepted an invitation from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to help form a Select Agent research advocacy group.
Martha I. Dávila-García, PhD
Title: Associate Professor
Institution/Company: Howard University College of Medicine
Ethnicity/Race: Chicano/Mexican American/Mexican
How long have you been a SACNAS member? Lifetime member; 7 or more years
I acknowledge that I became a BoD member with very little experience and lack of knowledge of what it entailed to be an effective BoD member. As I have gained more insight and have become more knowledgeable, and as I have become an active participant on Committees and task force groups, I believe that this time around I have more to give to the organization and thus, seek a second term. In my second term I will seek to help make the organization less financially vulnerable, help find other sources of revenue, and help establish a best practice model to diversify our reserves. I would like to see us establish new programs both inside and outside of the National Diversity in STEM Conference.
Diversity is the essence of humanity. I was born in the US but spent most of my childhood life in Mexico and feeling normal. I had a fantastic sense of belonging until, at the age of 19, I came to the US to study and gain a better education my adopted country could not provide for me. I am an American citizen with a Mexican heritage and soul and has always felt disenfranchised in my own country. I know well the pain, the anguish, and the loneliness that being non-white feels like. Early on in my life I vouched that I would help as many people as I could to reach their own dreams. That’s why I joined Howard University as a faculty, why I joined World Women in Neuroscience and joined the Leadership Committee, that is why I have joined the Society for Neuroscientist of Africa where I mentor and help create schools and leadership among its members, and that is why I joined SACNAS where I am presently a member of the BoD. I work hard to provide opportunities and benefits to all students that are marginalized and are underrepresented. I seek to encourage, promote and advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion in the STEM workforce. I want to help provide a place where we all feel welcomed and proud to bring our best to the table for the good of all. It is only when we feel we belong that we can unleash our creativity and thrive.
I would like to think of myself as a transformative leader. One that seeks to gain insight onto what the organization is doing and where it wants to go and find solutions to achieve those goals as a team. I would like to be one that motivates and inspires others to work together as a team for the common good. My leadership style is one of inclusion. I believe everyone should have the opportunity, motivation, and drive to speak up and be part of any conversation. I like to listen, It is listening to others that we gain a better perspective. Different eyes will always see a different angle of the same thing. It is bouncing off our own ideas that we can be an active participant in any process. Sharing our ideas is not for the purpose of showing off, but of expressing a thought based on our own assumptions and skills, our expertise, our own experiences and culture, our own natural instincts. Sharing our thoughts is the is the best way to move forward, only by sharing and listening to others can we see the different perspectives, make better decisions and find better solutions. Everyone should have a voice at the table, and I believe that gender equity is not only important, but essential, you cannot see the whole with only half a visual field.
I am presently the treasurer of SACNAS and the chair of the Finance committee. I am a scientist and in this capacity I wrote as the PI, along Dr. Patricia Silveyra and other Colleagues and SACNAS staff, an R13 grant for approximately $10 million dollars to support travel and registration of student, speakers, and to pay staff that contribute to the National Diversity in STEM Conference. I believe fundraising is an essential role of the BoD, and SACNAS has an a highly skilled membership which should also be tapped to give back to the organization.
SACNAS BoD core priority is the fiduciary responsibility of the organization. BoD members should be able to seek funding sources for SACNAS to be able to carry out its mission. Programs cannot succeed without funding, the Conference cannot be put together and be successful without funding, and we cannot grow thrive or develop new projects and activities without funding. A BoD must help develop the mission of the organization, ensure strategic planning, appropriate management of resources, determine priorities, must be loyal to the organization, and be professional.
At SACNAS, I have served in the Board of Directors for 2 years and 7 months, I am presently a member of the Executive Committee and the Treasurer (2020 – Present), Chair of the Finance Committee (2020 – Present), Chair of the Conference Subcommittee (2019 – Present), and member of the STEM Committee (2020 – Present) and Distinguished Awards Task Force (2019 – Present), and I was previously the Chair of the Programs Committee . I am a member of the Women in World Neuroscience (WWN), an International organization that seeks to mentor, promote and build a network for women neuroscientists around the world (2004 – Present) and have been a member of the leadership team (2011 – Present) and the Chair of the Partnerships and Collaborations Committee (2019 – Present). I have been a member and lead of multiple STEM outreach activities both Nationally and Internationally (2004 – Present) for WWN. At Howard University I am in the Executive Board of the Graduate School (2018-pesent), and I am the liaison of the Medical School to the Faculty Senate (2018 – Present). For the American Society of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET). I have been the chair of the Committee on Minorities (2006 – 2012 ), I am presently a member of the Mentoring and Diversity Committee (2017 – Present), and a member of the Executive Committee of the Neuroscience Division (2020 – present). resent) and a member of the leadership team (2011 – Present) and the Chair of the Partnerships and Collaborations Committee (2019 – Present). I have been a member and lead of multiple STEM outreach activities both Nationally and Internationally (2004 – Present) for WWN. At Howard University I am in the Executive Board of the Graduate School (2018 – Present), and I am the liaison of the Medical School to the Faculty Senate (2018 – Present). For the American Society of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET) I have been the chair of the Committee on Minorities (2006 – 2012 ), I am presently a member of the Mentoring and Diversity Committee (2017 – Present), and a member of the Executive Committee of the Neuroscience Division (2020 – present).
I have worked as a scientist for over 30 years and I have good relations with the NIH from which SACNAS recently received an IPERT Award to fund parts of the conference, leadership programs, as well as other activities for our Native American members. We have also received an excellent score (12) for an R13 I submitted as a PI with Dr. Patricia Silveyra and SACNAS staff for 10 million dollars for the National Diversity in STEM Conference to fund travel and registration for underrepresented minorities to attend the Conference, as well as funds for the staff, keynote speakers, and distinguished awardees. I have limited experience in National Partnerships but recently I have engaged in conversations with the Pharmaceutical Industry to seek funding and partnerships with them for the National Conference and other SACNAS’ professional development activities.
Neo Martinez, PhD
Title: Director and Adjunct Associate Professor
Institution/Company: Pacific Ecoinformatics and Computational Ecology Lab and Indiana University
Ethnicity/Race: Chicano/Mexican American/Mexican
How long have you been a SACNAS member? Lifetime member; 7 or more years
I would like to serve on SACNAS Board of Directors because I share and am deeply committed to SACNAS’ mission of enhancing true diversity in science, especially advancing scientists with indigenous roots in our hemisphere. I bring a lifelong experience of engagement with SACNAS including extensive insights from most of its founders as well as highly active current members. I also bring proven grantsmanship that has secured resources from the most competitive funding sources to support research and institutional development. Additionally, education at Cornell (BS), University of Wisconsin (MS), and UC Berkeley (MS, PhD) and being a professor at San Francisco State, University of Arizona, and Indiana University as well as founding a successful nonprofit research lab give me an extensive range of experience to contribute. Finally, I bring vision and leadership skills that could help motivate SACNAS to another level of achievement and visibility.
I have been working with SACNAS from when I was a child to the to the present as a professor. As a child, our family stuffed envelopes with surveys needed for my father (J.V. Martinez), a SACNAS founder and the first Mexican American to get a PhD in any of the physical sciences, to create a directory of Chicano and Native American scientists. Throughout my career I have organized several SACNAS meeting sessions, extensively mentored SACNAS members and Chapters, helped start San Francisco State’s Chapter, served as a member of SACNAS’ Board of Directors elected in 2008, graduated the 2009 Linton-Poodry SACNAS Leadership Institute, and spoken as a SACNAS sponsored 2018 March for Science speaker in Tucson, AZ. I was also a Postdoctoral Ford Fellow in 1992 and continue to promote the Ford Fellows’ mission to diversify academia by giving multiple presentations on publishing and grantsmanship at annual Ford Fellows conferences, reviewing applications for Ford Fellowships, and being very active in the Senior Ford Fellows organization. These activities have allowed me to mentor several Hispanic and Native American undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral students in my lab who have gone on to become professors and other professional scientists. I have also organized sessions at the annual Ecological Society of America conference that has featured many scientists of color including SACNAS members.
As a Professor at both San Francisco State University and the University of California as well as Director of the nonprofit Pacific Ecoinformatics and Computational Ecology Lab, I advocated for diversity, equity and inclusion by advising, conceiving of projects, writing proposals, and directing projects that recruited Native Americans and Hispanics and supported them to attain their professional goals within and outside academia. This ongoing work involves creating a personally, professionally, and intellectually nurturing environment where the projects could be pursued and identifying the office staff, students, and researchers as well as equipment such as high performance computers needed to conduct the project. This style includes projects such as my study of the the sustainability of Polynesians on Pacific Islands and securing generous ($1.5M) funding through NSF’s Dynamics of Coupled Natural Human Systems program by assembling teams of extraordinarily well qualified scientists to conduct the research. This style also includes encouraging project participants to do what they are best at and ensure that they get support and credit for doing their work.
I have secured $15M in 24 federal grants for my and my colleagues research including over $5M in 13 federal grants for which I am the lead PI. I have also secured sponsorships and participant funds for an international meeting (Network Science) of over 500 researchers from throughout the world. I would very much like to secure a large “science of science” grant for a team including SACNAS to study the progress of underrepresented peoples in science from NSF and perhaps other organizations (e.g., Ford Foundation) that fund research of this type. SACNAS has much data on the progress of underrepresented people in science. My close colleagues and Indiana University are international leaders in the science of science which seeks to understand how science and scientific careers progress. NSF is in the process of developing a large program in this area that my include large multimillion dollar multi-year funding for centers of excellence in this area. I would very much like to help lead SACNAS toward making the most of these wonderful opportunities that we are very well situated to take advantage of. I have extensive contacts with other organization such as Google and Facebook that may also be interested in funding and contributing human resource data to such research.
A core responsibility of a SACNAS board member is to insightfully conceive of what SACNAS is and how I can help SACNAS to achieve its potential. This is because SACNAS’ mission to advance true diversity in science is profoundly important for diverse people and the biodiverse planet. Fulfilling this responsibility includes attentive stewardship of the organization and its finances, developing allies that share SACNAS’ goals, and securing more human and financial resources needed to achieve its mission which currently far outstrips its means.
As a Professor of Biology at San Francisco State University, I served as a faculty sponsor of its SACNAS chapter in the late 1990’s and, as a Professor of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Arizona, I gave an inaugural presentation to its SACNAS chapter in 2013. I extensively mentored students of color in my labs at both Universities. I also founded the Pacific Ecoinfomatics and Computational Ecology Lab, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, in 2003 as its Director, position that I continue to hold where I wrote proposals, secured millions of dollars of grants, managed personnel, and led teams conducting very highly cited research. I have also extensively participated in discussions that led to the formation of the Senior Ford Fellows organization which is just now becoming established including editing its bylaws and helping to develop its mission to diversify the academy. As a Board Member from 2014 to 2018 of the international Network Science Society, I co-organized its 2014 annual meeting of over 500 people in Berkeley CA. From 2009-2010, I served as a Strategic Planning Committee member of the interdisciplinary Energy & Resources Group at UC Berkeley where our planning also revised the group’s mission. From 2016 to the present, I have been a Board Member of the Computation and Mathematics for Biological Networks (COMBINE) NSF Research Traineeship project at University of MD (PI Michele Girvan) where I help guide and review the project for NSF.
Many of my activities described in the other sections fit these criteria. Still, I would add my assistance in developing a memorandum of understanding between SACNAS and the Ecological Society of America that describes the goals the two organizations share. I have also planned research and monitoring activities for the US Forest Service.
Fabio Augusto Milner, MD/PhD
Title: Associate Dean & Professor
Institution/Company: Arizona State University
Ethnicity/Race: Other Latino/a (Caribbean, Central, or South American)
How long have you been a SACNAS member? Lifetime member; 7 or more years
I admire the history and the work of SACNAS and am proud to be a part of this fast-growing community. Through the years I have been a mentor, donor, evaluator of travel grant proposals and of presentation proposals, judge of student posters and oral presentations, professional development session organizer, scientific session organizer, conference attendee many times in many venues, and I do not seem to ever get enough! I get energized and filled with new ideas working within SACNAS’s programs and I think I am very well prepared to move into the next stage of commitment to the organization by serving in the Board of Directors. I have many years of experience working with students and young professionals from under-represented groups in STEM, I have been Director of Math for STEM Education for 12 years running, I am deeply committed to fight for diversity and inclusion and do so in many different venues, and I have excellent communication skills and successful personal examples of breaking walls and building bridges among antagonistic groups. During my tenure I would like to see SACNAS break through into every federal agency, every corporation and NGO that funds or advocates for projects and organizations devoted to equity, diversity and inclusion. We need to find allies among them who will be as passionate and committed as we are, initially in just one, and then another, and eventually become an everyday word in the vocabulary of NGOs, corporations, Senators and Representatives.
• Mentor to scores of undergraduate students, particularly women and others from under-represented minority groups (1979-present). • Member of Purdue University’s first College of Science Diversity Committee (1985). • Faculty advisor for the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (2000-2003). Mentored and chaperoned the team that won the Academic Olympiad in 2002, for the first time ever. • Mentor for the National Math Alliance (2011-present); Master Facilitator since 2018. • Life Member of SACNAS since 2008 and regular mentor of its students—both graduate and undergraduate. Regular donor, travel scholarship reviewer and poster judge. I have organized both professional development and research sessions in SACNAS annual conferences. In a professional development workshop that I organized (2016), the speakers were three faculty members, one Latina, one African American and one Hispanic male, and a recent Hispanic male PhD. In a very large room, there was standing room only. • Graduate Chair of Purdue Mathematics (2006-2008). Major demographic change among graduate students to include more women and URM students. Expanded UMBC flow of African American applicants, brought the first Native American student ever and a larger proportion of Hispanic students in new doctoral cohorts. Worked with colleagues to transform the culture of the department into a more equitable and inclusive one. • Plenary speaker, The role of the teacher in social justice, Workshop Critical Issues in Mathematics Education 2014: The role of the mathematics department in the mathematical preparation of teachers; MSRI (2014). • Rallied faculty to establish a Diversity Committee in the ASU School of Math & Stat (2019).
In AY 2018-2019 the Director of our School asked the faculty to help design a strategic plan for the School (for approximately 5 years). During discussions about the faculty hiring plan, I made a comment about the need for hiring committees to be keenly aware of issues in and committed to equity, diversity and inclusion. After some timid comments of support from a few colleagues, I tried a more aggressive approach and suggested we need to be proactive in helping to make our place of employment more diverse and inclusive, because it is morally necessary, because it is long overdue and because it is the right thing to do. This plea rallied a few more colleagues who had been quiet to make their voices heard during the meeting and, as a consequence, by the end of the meeting the first recommendation to the Director was the urgent need to institute a Diversity Committee. The Director ordered that happen as soon as possible and the committee started functioning in August 2019, just at the start of the new academic year. I then leveraged this success to argue in our college’s Deans meeting that diversity statements should be required for faculty applicants and for faculty members applying for promotion. The former requirement is already in place; the latter is under high-level discussions about its wording and implementation. Lesson learned: work intensely on gathering support from a few stakeholders and then bring up the issue in the large forum where decisions are made.
In 2010, during one of my daughter’s soccer matches, the goalie of her team suffered an injury to her spinal cord that left her working-class parents in a very precarious emotional and financial position with the prospect of having their daughter paralyzed for life and facing tens of thousands of dollars in uncovered medical expenses. Several of us parents rallied on that day and organized a car wash on a McDonald’s neighborhood parking lot for the following weekend. In a single weekend we collected over $13,000 that were given to the girl’s father. The girl went on to a significant recovery, was valedictorian of her HS class and has been admitted to Harvard Law School for fall 2022. SACNAS could add during the registration for the Annual Conference a step where the registrant can voluntarily donate $10 or more to a fellowship fund or, alternatively, make it a mandatory add-on. The latter would raise $40K-$50K, while the former would conceivable raise twice as much. Another possibility to capitalize on the large number of participants in the conference would be a 6-month fundraising campaign with a goal of $200K, for example, to kick off during the conference with a plenary presentation from the President or other board members talking about the budget and all the good things SACNAS does that need more funding. A special fundraising table for this campaign would be very visible in a high-traffic area so that participants could immediately donate whatever they felt like.
Even though Native Americans exceed 2% of the US population, their relative representation among college/university degree-recipients is just a fraction of that: they constitute 1.3% of STEM AS degree-recipients, 0.6% of STEM BS recipients, 0.5% of STEM MS recipients and 0.4% of STEM PhD recipients. These numbers bring to light the extreme under-representation of Native Americans among post-secondary degree-recipients: 38% under-representation in STEM AS degrees, 71% in STEM BS degrees, 76% in STEM MS degrees, 81% in STEM PhDs. Native Americans are in a much more dire situation than Chicanos/Hispanics in their under-representation in higher education, both at the undergraduate and graduate levels and particularly in STEM fields. The Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science has been instrumental in mediating notable changes in access, opportunity and representation of these URGs in colleges and universities but there is clearly a long way to go for Native American peoples. A core responsibility of a SACNAS board member is to honor the name of the Society by rallying the Board, the Society and leaders in Tribal Colleges, education in general, government, private sector, to garner support to recruit and mentor Native Americans into college and graduate careers in STEM that will allow them to blend their cultural values into existing the power and decision-making machine of society.
Purdue University: • Faculty Censure and Dismissal Committee, 1992-94. • School of Science Educational Policy Committee, 1993-96. • School of Science Faculty Council-At-Large, 1993-96. • Mathematics Undergraduate Chair, 1993-2006. • Senator At-Large, 1994-96. • Advisory Committee for International Programs, 1994-2002. • Faculty Convenor for Human Ecology, 1994-2002. Organized cross-college cooperation, seminars, and academic details for Global Studies Program. • School of Science Diversity Committee, 1995. • Senate Steering Committee, 1995-96. • Promotions Committee, 2004-07. • Faculty Censure and Dismissal Committee, AY 2005-07 (Chair, 2006-07). • Mathematics Graduate Chair, 2006-08. Arizona State University: • University Management Team, July 2008-present. Contribute creative ideas for new programs, platforms, outreach, funding, etc. to the President and Provost. • Secondary Education Concentration Committee, 2010-2011. Led the creation of this Concentration for BS in Mathematics; wrote 14 course syllabi and led year-long negotiation with the AZ Department of Education to give automatic certification as highly qualified HS teacher. • Teachers College, Math Consortium Leader, 2010-2014. Led development of eight math courses for elementary teacher preparation curriculum. Five of them are still in the major map. • MIRS Committee, Office of Research Integrity and Assurance, AY 2011-12. Evaluated merit of allegations of plagiarism for NSF. • Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure, 2013-2016. • Curriculum Committee Member, CLAS, 2018-present. Review and advise all new course and program proposals for CLAS. • Executive Committee Member, CLAS, 2018-present. Advise the Deans on all aspects of running CLAS. • Associate Dean of Graduate Initiatives, CLAS, 2018-present. Award all scholarships, fellowships and teaching assistantships to the 18 departments/schools in CLAS. Advise graduate chairs/directors on graduate program development, policy, student well-being, etc.
• Indiana DoE, Review Committee for End-of-Course HS Algebra I and II, July-November 2002. • Indiana DoE, 2nd Assessment Review Committee for End-of-Course HS Algebra I and II, April-November 2004. • Achieve, Inc., National Assessment Governing Board, Concept Paper for Mathematics in Grade 12, Washington DC, May 2005. • State of Indiana DoE, Core-40 Update, Indianapolis, October 2005. • I-STEM Resource Network, Professional Development Initiative on Out-of-Field Middle School Mathematics Teachers, January-April 2007. • Indiana DoE, Review Committee for High School Mathematics Standards, Indianapolis, February 2008. • Achieve, Inc., ADP Advisory Panel, Washington, DC, September 2008. • National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS), Mathematics Standards Board, Washington, DC, 2008-present. • Adaptive Curriculum, Mathematics Development Team, Scottsdale, May 2010-February 2013. • Education Development Center, Transition to Algebra Advisory Board, Boston, June 2010-July 2018. • Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC), Statewide Mathematics Committee, 2011-12. • Girl Scouts of America, STEM Advisory Board, Phoenix, 2012-2016. • National Math Alliance, Mentor and F-GAP Facilitator, 2011-present. This work resulted in present development of partnership between the Math Alliance and ASU’s Levin Center to make the Center a hub for mentoring/supporting URG students transitioning from college to graduate school. • US DoE, OCTAE Mathematics Coach, Washington, DC, December 2013-September 2016. • American Mathematical Society Committee on Science Policy, meeting with US Congress, Washington, DC, March 2014. • Arizona DoE, Technical Reviewer of Arizona College and Career Readiness Standards for K-12, December 2016. • Achieve, Inc., Middle Jobs Pathways Analysis, Washington, DC, December 2014-June 2015. • Conference Board of the Mathematical Sciences (CBMS), Arizona Executive Team Member, January 2019-present.
Marc Velasco, MSc
Title: Senior Software Engineer and Adjunct Faculty
Institution/Company: IBM and California State University, Fullerton
Ethnicity/Race: Chicano/Mexican American/Mexican
How long have you been a SACNAS member? Professional Member; 1 – 3 years
When my family came north from Mexico in the 1920s trying to find a brighter future for our family, what they got was me, the only surviving son of a single mother, diagnosed with ADHD and Tourette Syndrome, barely able to move from one grade to the next. Tradition said success never looked like me. Whether it was getting my Bachelor’s & Masters’ in Computer Science, then my Master’s in Software Engineering; getting a job from someone taking a chance on me; surprising everyone with my technical abilities; becoming a technical leader; to now the technical leader of a line of business in IBM that does almost $100 million dollars in revenue each year; culminating in a technical executive position by the end of the year, truly tradition had never met me. What do I want to see during my tenure? I want to be the catalyst for change, see the numbers of increased retention, participation, chapter formation. I want to see how we turn the current challenges in the world into opportunities. I want to show our students and members what it means to serve, inspire, and lead.
For more background on me and my platform please visit: Vote for Marc For SACNAS Board
In my 20+ year career I have been very active within and outside of IBM. As an engineer, volunteering with STEM diversity organizations is a great honor. As an employee with IBM I work with students to tell them what life is like at IBM, opportunities available, and recommendations for their career and resumes. I connect with many, and recommend many when positions become available in IBM. Inside IBM I’m also involved in diversity networking, as a senior engineer providing mentoring to IBMers throughout the company. I love showing students what it’s like to be a professional and the amazing things we do for each other. Once I started teaching at California State University, Fullerton I took the opportunity to become involved in the student diversity organizations there, including the student chapter of SACNAS, attending their meetings and mentoring them with my knowledge of industry. I also started a meetup in my local region dedicated to connecting tech professionals with volunteer and outreach opportunities in the area. Summary of STEM Diversity Work: • 2020 Summer Travel Scholarship Reviewer • 2020 Summer Research Presentation Reviewer • 2019 Travel Scholarship Reviewer • 2019 Research Presentation Reviewer • 2019 Summer Research Presentation Reviewer • 2019 Summer Travel Scholarship Reviewer • 2016 – SACNAS attendee – Onsite recruiting for IBM • 2019 NSBE Conference Recruitment for IBM • 2020 NSBE Conference Recruitment for IBM • 2019 Student outreach at USC for student chapters of SWE and NSBE • 2018-2020 Involvement with California State University, Fullerton student chapters in networking, presentations and mentoring: SHPE, SACNAS, ACM, MAES
In IBM we have an extensive amount of training around diversity, inclusion, and allyship. Some levels of this include being named a “Be Equal Ambassador”. This involves not only going through the training above, but also advocating and sharing these lessons with coworkers, putting these values into practice. An example took place this last semester, as the world was slowly moving towards shutdown I already had a student with different abilities in one of my classes who required accommodations, I worked hard to ensure materials and lectures were in place, interpreters were up to date on material and everything was working great. Then Covid happened and we never met in class again. This required a quick pivot to ensure this student still had the best quality education as well as accommodations to ensure that was the case. However this was a new world, even the disabilities services office had no experience with totally remote services. I spent lots of time researching tools and techniques that could be used (no one had any standards yet) and worked with the disability services group to find the right set of tools to allow learning and collaboration that worked for my student. It worked so well the disability services group in my campus used it as an example for other teachers to use in their classes as well, so this semester as students continue remote learning, disability services has a good plan in place to accommodate students in these challenging time.
In my work with Orange County ACM I’ve worked with the executive committee in a number of attempts at fundraising: • Securing meeting locations for executive meetings • Working on mail and social campaigns with the executive board for sponsoring companies – resulting grants ~$1500 from company contributions • Increasing individual attendance (when in person events were occurring), responsible for finding speakers who could bring in high attendance numbers Some ways I would like to increase fundraising is by working with more corporations, showing greater participation from private industry as well as membership. Some possibilities: • Explore more corporate sponsorships • Increase diversity of membership in other STEM disciplines • More corporate buy-in for virtual events (which will be key in the near-term) – virtual career fairs, virtual fireside chats, guest lectures • Corporate adoption of matching programs (if employees want to donate, companies can match that donation) • Provide technical eminence activities via company sponsorships, guest lectures, demos, brand building events • Work to keep members engaged. *Awards for chapters with most increases in membership, retention *Maybe just recognition at first *Maybe as a reward a charitable donation to the organization(s) of choice by the winning chapter. • Add toolkits and support to easily spin up new chapters *Peer chapters to help new chapters spin up and form • Compensate peers with charitable donations as above
I believe a core responsibility of a SACNAS board member is to be visible. Visible in creating visions and leading in fulfilling the SACNAS mission. Visible to academic and private industries. Visible to professionals. Visible to college students. Visible to elementary students. Make the impact of SACNAS visible to professionals and students. The biggest impact we can have is when a student or professional sees us being a force of change for others, something beyond our careers and positions, to make their world better. By convincing others, through our mission and vision, to establish a tradition of inspiring, serving, and leading in each other. This is best summarized by Mario Molina, the first Mexican recipient of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1995: “The scientists I looked up to at the beginning were not Latino. They were famous scientists of many years ago, like Madame Curie. Later, I realized that there were also, but a very few, Latino scientists. There were good ones, but very few, because there wasn’t as much a tradition to be a scientist in our culture. But this is changing.” – Mario J. Molina (Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1995)
My role with governing organizations began with my roles as vice-president then president of my student ACM chapter, but evolved with professional organizations, leading company internal organizations, and running my own meetup. While each has been different in focus and goals, they’ve all taught me very valuable lessons in governance, paying attention to each organization’s mission and constituency. Since 2017 I have been a member of the California State University, Fullerton Curriculum Advisory Board: • Analyze course objective goals with learning objectives for ABET accreditation • Examine work products used to meet ABET accreditation by course • Recommend course changes to match evolving industry needs In 2019 I started a meetup dedicated to finding volunteer and giveback opportunities for technical professionals in my local community “Do Better:Be Better – Volunteering and Outreach for Techies”: • Connecting professionals with student networking events at local universities • Engaging professionals with conferences looking for speakers in the area • In the post-Covid world, remote activities to connect members with remote volunteer opportunities. I have also volunteered in various roles with the local Orange County Association for Computing Machinery chapter: • Since 2019 serving on the executive board governing meetings, responsible for chapter business, events, and vision. • I currently hold the Communications Officer position, communicating the various events we have to the other ACM and technical organizations in the region as well as the national ACM organization. • In 2019 I served as the ACM chapter’s program speaking coordinator finding speakers for our semi-monthly topic meetings which generally have from 50-80 attendees.
Within IBM we have an organization called the Academy of Technology that allows us to innovate and ideate in ways that cross product, divisional, and job role boundaries. With both a global/national organization as well as many distributed affiliates throughout the globe, it’s a truly diverse group of talented individuals. As a prolific contributor to the IBM Academy of Technology (AoT) some of my work has included: • Working with the core team in a local affiliate, giving/organizing events, increasing social awareness of the local affiliate. • Leading global/national workstreams for the future of cloud, and status quo of cloud studios. • Contributing to developing inventors as a service initiative • Member of a technical stem council to drive global initiatives and work in the AoT around STEM in early education. Additionally I have volunteered in various roles with the local Orange County Association for Computing Machinery chapter: • Serving on the executive board governing actions and events for the local chapter. • I currently hold the Communications Officer position, communicating the various events we have to the other ACM and technical organizations in the region as well as the national ACM organization. • I have also served as the ACM chapter’s program speaking coordinator finding speakers for our semi-monthly topic meetings which generally have from 50-80 attendees.
Student Board Member Candidates
Ariel Vaughn (Miwok), BS
Title: PhD Candidate
Institution/Company: University of Southern California
Ethnicity/Race: American Indian/Native American
How long have you been a SACNAS member? Student member; 3 – 6 years
I’m applying to serve on the SACNAS Board of Directors because I want to make a bigger impact on the SACNAS Community. My various roles in different student organizations have given me the opportunity to get experience in media, finance, networking, and running a student organization. Beyond these skills, this work has nourished my creativity and teamwork. They have given me the opportunity to give back to communities that need our support. I have honed my leadership skills and have been inspired to challenge myself to make a difference to a larger group of people. I grew up in a town of less than 5,000 people. As a Native American, first-generation woman I empathize with the struggles within SACNAS populations. I was a transfer student during my undergraduate career and spent a year in the pharmaceutical industry and a year in community college stock rooms before returning to graduate school. I am getting my PhD in physical chemistry as an experimentalist. I work in the field of nonlinear spectroscopy and was the only underrepresented minority in my graduate classes. My unique background allows me to approach problems differently than my peers. If elected, I would like to expand the SACNAS reach to these smaller communities by encouraging chapters to form in smaller community colleges and provide outreach to more rural areas.
I have served on the USC SACNAS board for four years. From 2016 – 2017, I was the treasurer and managed the funding applications for our events. I worked directly with the president to shape our restarted SACNAS chapter. In the summer of 2017, I was one of three people who founded the SERGE program at USC – a week-long, hands-on science camp for Native American middle schoolers. We provided this free camp to families in the tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. For the three years we ran the program, it doubled in size each year. One of our first students went from being a C-student to receiving a full ride scholarship to a private STEM high school in Los Angeles. In the Fall of 2017, I moved into the president position for the chapter, where I still remain. As president, I have started a community college summer scholarship on campus to provide a student with a paid part-time internship in a research lab at USC. I realized many community college students are unaware that they are qualified to do research at universities like USC. Beyond SACNAS, I spent two years in the Chemistry Graduate Student Organization (2016 – 2018). I am also the research seminar coordinator for the Women in Chemistry (WiC) organization on campus (2019 – present). Since 2017, I have served as a mentor to incoming graduate students through WiC and am a registered role model on FabFems – an organization connecting female STEM role models to the public.
I was one of three founders of the Summer Experience in Renewable and Green Energy program – a science camp for Native American middle school students. We have run this program for three years. As the primary organizer for the event, I am responsible for finding a group of volunteer graduate students, planning the experiments, managing the budget, and acting as the camp counselor for the students. I started the SACNAS Community College Research Scholarship and took charge with much of the fundraising for the events. We had nine volunteers. In this team, we designed the application, decided on the selection criteria, fundraised, and reviewed all of the applications. Through these two programs, I have had to act as a warm demander of my team. I have had to learn how to delegate, maintain high standards, and still keep the organization functioning like a family. According to the Clifton’s Strengths assessment, my top 5 themes are relator, learner, achiever, responsibility, and includer. I bring these strengths into my leadership roles: I emphasize a family feel to the team; I work hard to learn and take ownership of my role; and I actively work to include everyone in the conversation. In 2019, I received the SACNAS Presentation award and was invited to be part of the Younger Chemists track at the American Chemical Society Leadership Development Institute. I took courses in topics including strategic planning and coaching and feedback. These classes have shaped how I approach teamwork in our organization.
In 2019, SACNAS had our first USC SACNAS Community College Research Scholarship. Our organization had never fundraised before, and we raised $1,500 in three months. This was completed with a group of nine volunteers. We had to develop a fundraising plan to provide this research opportunity to a community college student. We sold donuts, tie dyed lab coats, sold flowers, made bouquets, delivered food during finals, and asked for donations from people on the street. The student who received this scholarship was able to work in an organic chemistry lab and move to part-time at one of her jobs for the duration of the scholarship. This opportunity has strengthened her transfer application to study forensics. One of the major changes we made for the 2020 scholarship was the decision to add the money for a metro card to the scholarship to cover the cost of transportation. For 2020, we raised $1,750 for the scholarship, but have had to postpone the award until the following year. I have had to manage grant money for outreach through the Summer Experience in Renewable and Green Energy program – our annual science camp for Native American middle schoolers. In this role, I was in charge of buying supplies, ordering food, and paying for transportation for the students. While these funds came from an NSF Career grant, I was responsible for budget management and supplies.
One of the core responsibilities of the SACNAS board is to define the mission and purpose of the organization. This responsibility shapes all of the goals for the organization and is what defines the SACNAS family. As a Native American, first-generation woman in STEM, I am extremely passionate about promoting diversity in these fields. I believe it is my moral obligation to give back to other underrepresented minorities and help inspire the next generation of scientists. The SACNAS board represents the mission and defines the goals to promote the mission. I personally believe that this allows the board to shape not only the future of this organization, but also the future of the individual scientists.
During my first year as treasurer at SACNAS (2016 – 2017), I founded SERGE (Summer Experience in Renewable and Green Energy). This science camp for Native American middle schoolers showed me that I could make a difference in the lives of these students. This work inspired me to transition into the role of president (2017 – present). Beyond SERGE, I have hosted graduate student panels, research pairing mixers, and raised money for two scholarships for community college students to do paid research at USC. I have acted as a liaison between our organization and the department throughout this process. During my time at the Chemistry Graduate Student Organization (2016 – 2018), I served as the social media chair and a board member, where I managed the social content and served as a representative for my class. This year, I am the research seminar coordinator for the Women in Chemistry (WiC) organization on campus (2019 – present). In this role, I organize meetings with all female seminar speakers who arrive on campus. This has increased my networking skills and resulted in my developing a large network of diverse women across academia. Beyond my formal role with WiC, I have served as a mentor for incoming female graduate students since 2017. I act as a point of contact to help the incoming students navigate graduate school, get them in contact with graduate students in labs they are interested in, and provide advice for classes and how to join a research group.
I have been a member of the American Chemical Society since 2012. I have attended a variety of the Southern California events over the last two years where I actively promoted research opportunities offered through my SACNAS chapter for local community college students to professors from the colleges. During my time as president at USC’s SACNAS chapter, I have established a relationship with the LACC’s SACNAS chapter where we have had co-events including mixers and practice presentations for the SACNAS conference. Our collaboration with LACC has been particularly meaningful as we can hear directly from community college students what kind of opportunities they feel they are lacking and how we can be of assistance. We have helped with transfer applications and provided many of these students with research opportunities at USC. I attended the Reclaiming STEM workshop at Irvine hosted by Irvine’s SACNAS chapter with several members of SACNAS. At this workshop, we learned how we can make our voices heard in this political climate. Our chapter has also developed ties with DiverseScholar, an organization aimed at providing postdocs with career advice, networking and professional development opportunities, and mentorship.
Shaimar Gonzalez Morales, MS
Title: Graduate Student Seeking Doctoral Degree
Institution/Company: University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio
Ethnicity/Race: Puerto Rican
How long have you been a SACNAS member? Student member; 3 – 6 years
If elected to serve on the SACNAS Board of Directors, I bring the training I received from the NSF BIO I-Corp Program, which I will apply to identify potential donors. I will also use the training I received from the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) Biotech Course to build networks to benefit SACNAS and explain the benefits of their investment to donors. In addition, I bring my training in leadership, conflict management, mentoring relationships, managing teams, etc. from both the NIH and the New York Academy of Sciences. I believe that the training that I have received so far in conjunction with my experience with the Society for In Vitro Biology, ASCB, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Research Mentoring Network, and the Code2College and Ciencia Puerto Rico initiatives, show that I am serious in this endeavor and that I am dedicated to helping students get into STEM fields, becoming successful individuals and leaders in their fields, and that I am committed to creating changes towards achieving TRUE diversity in STEM. If elected, I would like to see SACNAS provide more opportunities to explore different careers. One way this can be achieved is through broader representation from different sectors other than academia at the national conference. I believe that this will increase attendance of graduate student and postdoctoral trainees and would provide insights and potential internship opportunities for undergraduate student. I would also like to see more representation from disabled scholars in the main sessions.
During my master’s studies I experienced a lot of discrimination and I needed inspiration when I felt almost defeated. SACNAS provided that for me. It gave me a community and a place where my opinion matters. Shortly after starting my PhD studies, I led an effort to reinstate the SACNAS Chapter at UT Health San Antonio, a chapter that remains active to this day. I served as the chapter president for the first year and helped as a consultant in the second year. During my presidency, one of our initiatives allowed 12 students to attend the National Conference with all expenses paid by our chapter. We participated in activities to get kids (K-12) from low-income communities interested in STEM, we shared our science with middle and high school teachers to help them develop curricula that was up to date with what is being taught at universities. We worked with the March for Science to advocate for the importance of science and diversity in STEM. We led initiatives to promote the SACNAS National Conference through different platforms. In addition, I am a mentor through National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN) and Semillas de Triunfo, through these initiatives I mentor underrepresented undergraduate students in STEM during their training and help them explore different opportunities, and I help girls from middle schools in Puerto Rico become STEM ambassadors in their communities. Also, I worked with Code2College to share my story and inspire underrepresented women in STEM to follow their dreams and never give up.
As master’s student, I experienced isolation and clear micro-aggressions from my pears and professors that made me feel unwelcome. SACNAS National Conference made me realized that I did belong at the school and in STEM. When I entered the Ph.D. program, one of my main missions was to establish a SACNAS Chapter to create an environment that was open and supportive of everyone. The chapter failed in the past, and therefore I needed to strategize a plan to help it succeed. As the president I advertised SACNAS as an organization that promotes diversity in STEM rather than focusing only on Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans. Even though I am member of those groups, I recognize that we need allies to help build a supportive system. I noticed that having this type of advertising helped more underrepresented minorities become interested in joining the chapter, made the chapter stronger — the most active organization in campus at that time, and maintained the chapter since then. At the NIH, I am currently working with fellows from underrepresented groups to create sessions that highlight speakers from all the minority groups. In addition, I am writing a book about disability in academia where I am currently interviewing undergraduate students to faculty to raise awareness of these issues and to highlight the changes that need to occur. While people often talk about diversity and inclusion, they often forget that the disabled are a large but often forgotten minority group. And I want to work to change that.
As a SACNAS Chapter President, I designed a plan for fundraising at our school. We were able to raise over $1,000 to fund monthly professional development activities for our students. We also identified speakers who agreed to donate their time and effort to develop the professional development workshop with our chapter board in order to maximize resources available for these activities. I also raised funds for our chapter by applying to a funding opportunity within UT Health San Antonio. We obtained a grant of over $6,000 that funded the attendance of 12 students from our chapter at the National Conference. We designed a competition to select six awardees through evaluation by a panel of faculty members. Awardees were required to present at our monthly chapter meeting on what they learned and what inspired them at the conference. These efforts not only allowed us to fund conference attendance, but also helped strengthen the chapter, provide opportunities for leadership to expand their networks and, increase the number of SACNAS members in our chapter, and inspire awardees to be more involved in the organization and its mission. These investments have maintained the chapter over several years. Regarding ideas for fundraising efforts, I think we can reach out more to all industry sectors (beauty (L’Oréal has an initiative to support women in STEM), biotech, pharma, technology, etc.), news outlets (which often employ PhDs for science communication), to be sponsors or donors that can help support and advance the mission of SACNAS.
The core responsibilities of SACNAS board members are to advance the mission of the organization by making decisions that benefit of the nonprofit corporation and ensuring that the organization not only has adequate resources but that it uses all its assets wisely. In addition, board members make sure that the services and programs that the organization has offers remain consistent with its mission. They also review the organization mission statement to assure that it remains a strong articulation of how true diversity is achieved and why is important. These are all done within the framework of SACNAS laws and regulations.
Serving as the student program chair with the Society for In Vitro Biology was my first experience with organizational governance. My role was to design, organize, and supervise activities such as the Student Symposium, Networking Luncheon, Poster Presentations and Non-Competitive Oral Presentations. In Spring 2017, I served as a member of the Strategic Planning Committee to help design a plan for UT Health San Antonio that moves the graduate school of biomedical sciences forward. The plan focused on changes in the curriculum to foster a culture of community and collaboration, raising the bar for scholarships among students while maintaining the goal, mission and values of the UT System. Some of these initiatives have been implemented and students now have the opportunity to gain more training in fields that are driving growth in the biomedical sciences, explore different career opportunities, and be more successful in securing funding. One thing that was still needed was an organization dedicated to support underrepresented minorities. Therefore, my main goal was to re-instate the SACNAS Chapter on campus. I succeeded and was able to make the SACNAS Chapter the most active organization on campus, have it highlighted in university blogs, and secure grant funding. As I moved to NIH to complete my training, I wanted to keep developing efforts to help students succeed. In Spring 2019, I worked with the Planning Committee to organize all aspect of the Graduate Student Retreat. We developed a successful retreat that focused on the importance of diversity in teams.
I enjoy working on designing activities and opportunities to help students succeed in their career choices. My first national/international engagement was with the Society for In Vitro Biology, which I served for a year as the Student Program Chair. During my time in the organization, I helped evaluate abstracts, select candidates for the symposium as well as to identifying judges for the session. I also helped design professional development activities to help students practice their talks and gain feedback without the stress of participating in a judged oral competition, and a networking event with mentors from different areas of in vitro biology to help students explore different career opportunities. In 2018, I worked with the American Association for the Advancement of Science as a science annotator to make scientific journals accessible to middle and high school students and help teachers develop curricula where their students could learn about current scientific findings in different STEM fields. During 2018, I also had the opportunity to work with the SACNAS Local Conference Committee, helping them with advertising the conference in both Texas and nationally through the connections established with the Biomedical Science Careers Program. In December 2018, I had the chance to work with the American Society for Cell Biology as a panelist in one of their sessions. There, I gave advice to new graduate students about securing funding, managing difficult conversations, career opportunities, etc.
It is the policy of SACNAS not to discriminate against any individual or group for reasons of race, color, religion, creed, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, sex, pregnancy or related medical conditions, age, marital status, ancestry, sexual orientation, physical or mental or sensory disability, genetic information, military status or any other consideration protected by applicable federal, state or local laws. SACNAS is committed to providing equal opportunities in all activities including application for Board service.
DIVERSITY & INCLUSION
Diversity and inclusion are more than just words to SACNAS. They are integral parts of our history, culture, and identity. They are the principles that founded our organization, guide our strategic path forward, and help us fulfill our mission. We continually seek to build and maintain a Board of Directors that reflects the rich diversity of our organization and country. We look for and celebrate diverse voices, experiences, backgrounds, and talents to help us approach our work fearlessly, spark creativity, drive innovation, improve constantly, and celebrate our successes. Simply put, everyone is welcome at SACNAS. We believe that an inclusive organization is one where our employees, volunteers, and board members feel empowered to be their full, authentic selves.