SACNAS conference diversity in chemistry symposium

Symposium at the SACNAS conference
One highlight of the SACNAS conference held recently in downtown Los Angeles was the symposium titled: Diversity in Chemistry: Uniting our Differences for a Brighter Scientific Future. The symposium was hosted and co-sponsored by The Organization for Cultural Diversity in Science (OCDS) and the Center for C-H Functionalization (CCHF) in an effort to provide the best aspects of the SACNAS conference to the community without the registration cost.
The SACNAS national conference is an annual event dedicated to engaging students pursuing education and careers in the STEM fields. There are outstanding networking opportunities with world-class scientists and numerous lectures to attend on cutting-edge research. However, the registration costs can be prohibitive for many students to attend, which is where OCDS saw their opportunity to provide a similar event to those unable to attend or afford SACNAS.
The symposium featured three outstanding chemists from top universities: Professor Richmond Sarpong from UC Berkeley, Professor Javier Read de Alaniz of UC Santa Barbara, and Professor Hilary Coller from UCLA. Each distinguished professor described their research projects and their scientific interests, but it did not stop there. Each professor shared stories of personal setbacks and delved into the human aspect of what it is like to assist in building their students’ own chemistry careers. This unique opportunity to mingle with renowned professors in an intimate setting is the embodiment of the SACNAS conference.
We had an outstanding attendance, with 75 students whom signed-in and more afterwards, despite our timing on a Friday evening.
Thanks to substantial donations from CCHF and the Los Angeles Trade Technical College (LATTC), the symposium was provided free of charge to the community. LATTC generously provided the auditorium, refreshments, and free advertising to their students and faculty. CCHF provided financial support as well as organization sources to host the event.
I am grateful to all that continue to support OCDS and the Committee for Minority Affairs (CMA) in our common mission to diversify STEM. A special thanks to Dr. Monya Ruffin, the Director of Diversity, Education, and Outreach at CCHF. She has been extremely supportive throughout the planning of this event. The overwhelmingly positive response to our symposium sets the groundwork for this to be a permanent event, taking place off-site but during SACNAS or ACS conferences. Widely accessible events like this will hopefully inspire more community members to pursue a career in STEM.