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White House Advisers Inspire 3,000+ On Day 2 of SACNAS Conference

After SACNAS Students Visit White House, Featured Speakers Monica Ramirez Basco and Mike Connor Highlight the Importance of Diversifying our STEM Field and Global Competitiveness


WASHINGTON D.C.—Day two of SACNAS’ 2015 Diversity in STEM Conference featured panels and speeches on topics ranging from women in STEM to family engagement in the STEM fields.

Ahead of the keynote addresses, several SACNAS students had the opportunity to visit with Dr. John P. Holdren, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Students from Texas Tech University, University of Hawaii, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Washington, and the University of California, represented the five “Chapter of the Year” award winning institutions. Each chapter was honored this year for outstanding achievements diversifying the STEM field through grassroots work at their university campuses and in their local communities.

Said Dr. Holdren about the visit, “To tackle the challenges of the 21st century, we must continue to inspire tomorrow’s thinkers, innovators, and problem-solvers to pursue STEM fields. Not only does this require effective mentorship like the SACNAS program, but it also demands the inclusion of students from all backgrounds. This is critical to our future and American innovation.”

Added William Feldman, a graduate student studying Genome Sciences at the University of Washington, “From visiting the OSTP and meeting Dr. Holdren I learned how academics and our scientific community can make a difference in government. I saw first hand how our leaders are trying to integrate STEM into policy making and sustain it through diversity.”

Friday’s keynote speakers included White House Director of Neuroscience, Mental Health, and Broadening Participation Monica Basco and Deputy Secretary of the Interior Mike Connor.

Deputy Secretary Connor discussed how his department is prioritizing STEM diversity. He said: “There’s a lot of ways to help to support Hispanic and Native American scientists. It starts by doing our part to promote diversity in STEM and understanding both the national and global benefit in doing that. At the Department of the Interior, we’re on the ground in a number of locations, working to inspire students to pursue STEM careers and provide opportunities to get the training and experience needed to help them land jobs wherever they might be.”

The evening closed with a celebration of Native American culture and a traditional Pow Wow gathering.

The conference will conclude tomorrow with an awards ceremony and remarks by Jennifer S. Martinez, Deborah A. Santiago, Dr. David R. Burgess and Dr. Rush Holt. Follow @sacnas for live conference updates and information.


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