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UC Riverside is platinum sponsor of national conference attracting high-achieving minority students

RIVERSIDE, Calif. The University of California, Riverside is a platinum sponsor this year of the annual conference of the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) taking place at the Anaheim Convention Center, Sept. 30Oct. 3.

As many as 3,500 science undergraduates, graduate students, and professors from colleges and universities across the United States will attend the conference to present their research, talk about their experiences, and stress the importance of science education. Most of the students attending are high-achieving undergraduates and are looking for graduate programs to further their studies.

"Nearly all the students attending the conference are from underrepresented minorities in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields," said Joseph Childers, the dean of the Graduate Division at UC Riverside, who will attend the conference. "They are already engaged in research and are actively working toward the next step in their education. Faculty in attendance serve as the students' mentors, talking with the students about scientific research and what it takes to be successful in science."

Timothy P. White, the chancellor of UCR, is scheduled to address the conference at the opening banquet on Sept. 30.

About 200 of the students participating in the conference will visit UCR on Thursday morning, Sept. 30, to learn about the university's graduate programs. They will tour labs, talk to UCR graduate students and faculty members in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields and listen during breakfast in the Highlander Union Building to presentations by Jodie Holt, a professor of plant physiology, and Cheryl Hayashi, a professor of biology.

Nationwide, only a few students from Hispanic, African American, and Native American backgrounds earn advanced degrees in the STEM fields. For example, of the doctoral degrees awarded in these fields in 2007, only 3.2 percent were to Hispanics and 2.9 percent were to African Americans, whereas 60 percent were to Caucasians.

"President Obama has made STEM Education a top priority, and SACNAS is at the forefront of having full participation of Hispanic and Native American communities in science," said Judit Camacho, executive director of SACNAS.

"Partnering with SACNAS is an excellent opportunity for universities dedicated to increasing the diversity of their graduate population in the STEM fields," Childers said. "This conference brings together many of the nation's best undergraduate students in the sciences. At SACNAS they get to meet and mingle with scientists and professors who look like them, who come from similar backgrounds, and who can help them demystify how to succeed in graduate school and research careers thereafter. UCR, one of the most diverse research universities in the country, chose to sponsor the conference for these reasons and also because we see it as an excellent occasion to showcase our campus and graduate programs to thousands of highly motivated students."

SACNAS is a national society with a 37-year history of supporting minority scientists and science students. Its first national conference took place in 1978. One of its founders is Marigold Linton, an alumna of UCR; she is scheduled to speak at the conference at 7 p.m., Sept. 29, at the Anaheim Marriott near the Convention Center, Platinum Ballrooms 3 and 4.

The society is comprised of more than 3,000 paid members along with more than 20,000 affiliates and partners from a diversity of disciplines, institutions, and ethnic backgrounds.


Contact: Iqbal Pittalwala
University of California -- Riverside

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