OSU SACNAS Chapter Recognized for Community Involvement and Research Excellence at National Conference

The OSU chapter was honored with a new award category, created specifically to celebrate their work with Native American communities in 2018.

by Mateo Garcia

In 2018, twenty-five OSU students—many of whom were AgSci majors—attended the 45th annual SACNAS (Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science) National Diversity in STEM Conference in San Antonio, Texas. Of the 155+ recognized SACNAS chapters, there are opportunities for six to be nationally recognized--the OSU chapter was honored with a seventh category created specifically to celebrate their work with Native American communities.

The three-day SACNAS conference was the largest yet, at 4200 attendees, 461 exhibitors, and countless opportunities for students to connect with faculty and professionals. As a first-time attendee and National Travel Award recipient, the conference not only made me feel sure of my place in STEM, but gave me the exposure to pathways, mainly graduate programs, I didn’t realize were options. Four other OSU attendees were also awarded National Travel Awards, which covered students’ travel and lodging fees.

In addition, three undergraduate students and two graduate students were selected to present their research posters, and one graduate student gave an award-winning oral presentation. Graduate student Ana Arteaga (above, right) was awarded for her oral presentation on Uranyl Peroxide Capsule Self-assembly in Slow Motion.

Apart from making connections and learning about a myriad of career and academic opportunities, those in attendance were able to take part in various cultural activities they might not usually have the opportunity to. One of these was the 26th Annual SACNAS Pow Wow, led in part by SACNAS elders, a few of whom had been there at the organization’s founding.

All attendees, whether it was their first or fifth time attending, were able to walk away from the conference with at least one transformative experience. For some, like first-year graduate student and conference returner Raven Waldron, that was in the connections made: “I had the opportunity to mentor younger students from OSU who were in attendance. I made meaningful connections, not only with our own students, but also students from across the nation at our recruitment booth.”

Others found immense value in the workshops held, which covered a wide breadth of topics, from innovative research to resiliency as scientists belonging to marginalized communities. The experiences and perspectives gained were for many students unique to attending the largest diversity in STEM conference. Some may have arrived feeling disconnected from their communities within their disciplines, but all left San Antonio feeling empowered and connected to a large network of scientists across the country.