Washington Update

Underrepresented Minority Students Get Invaluable Advice at SACNAS Annual Conference

By: Teresa Ramirez
Thursday, October 18, 2018

The Society for Advancing Chicano/Hispanics & Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) celebrated its 45th anniversary at its national conference, “Diversity in STEM,” in San Antonio, Texas, October 10-13.

SACNAS advocates for and fosters the success of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) by promoting opportunities to pursue advanced degrees and leadership positions. Of the nearly 4,000 attendees, some were first-generation college or graduate students, while others study under the auspices of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Dr. Ellen Ochoa, co-Chair of the National Science Board, delivered the conference keynote. Ochoa was the first Hispanic woman in space and directed the NASA Johnson Space Center from 2013-2018. She shared her inspiring trajectory and the importance of being confident and actively pursuing one’s career goals.


SACNAS offers a series of professional development and scientific symposia at the conference. FASEB staff participated in two professional development sessions. In “Using Science to Transition to Careers in Academia, Government, Industry, Policy and Non-Profit,” panelists shared personal experiences that helped them navigate their educational and career trajectories as they transitioned into various sectors.

In the second, “Stories from the Other Side of the Blurry Tunnel: It Gets Better after All,” panelists shared inspiring personal stories to students who might be experiencing similar situations. I shared my own story of overcoming “imposter syndrome” as a graduate student – characterized by feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt – and provided tips on making the graduate school experience more rewarding.

Science research presentations are a hallmark of the SACNAS meeting. Of 1,000-plus research presentations, 105 undergraduate and graduate students received awards for their presentations.