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USGS Coastal and Marine Geology Program Continues its Presence at the SACNAS National Conference

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Typical scene from the SACNAS conference exhibit hall
Above: Typical scene from the SACNAS conference exhibit hall, where exhibits and student posters are combined to facilitate interactions between students and science professionals. Commonly, the SACNAS National Conference includes more than 200 exhibitors, from universities, nonprofit organizations, and State and Federal Agencies. [larger version]

For the third consecutive year, Claudia Flores and Ben Gutierrez of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, attended the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) National Conference. The conference was held in Dallas, Texas, from October 15 to 18, with the theme "Improving the Human Condition: Challenges for Interdisciplinary Science." The conference focuses on helping students connect with professional scientists and assisting them in their pursuit of graduate school and professional opportunities in the sciences. Approximately 2,700 participants attended this year's meeting, with 1,600 of those attendees being graduate or undergraduate students.
Flores and Gutierrez, who are members of SACNAS, are active at the national conference both because of their personal commitment and because of their work with the multi-institution Woods Hole Diversity Advisory Committee, which strives to increase the participation of women and underrepresented minorities in the Earth and ocean sciences and in the Woods Hole Scientific Community. The USGS exhibit booth provided Flores and Gutierrez with the opportunity to reach out to students, teachers, and research professionals. Additionally, they were able to interact with students from a range of disciplines during several mentoring sessions and workshops.

The USGS exhibit highlighted USGS research in the northern Gulf of Mexico and extreme-storm-response work. Posters were provided by Dave Twichell and Elizabeth Pendleton as well as Nathaniel Plant and Karen Morgan. Also at this meeting, Serena Moseman, a former USGS Mendenhall Postdoctoral Research Fellow, organized and chaired a session titled "Serving our Communtities Through Marine Science: An Ocean of Opportunities." The session was designed to give students the opportunity to learn about the ocean sciences, their influence on society, and what education and career options are available.

SACNAS's primary mission is to mentor aspiring science and engineering students from minority communities. Each year, the 4-day national conference seeks to provide an open environment for developing and furthering minority involvement in the sciences and is attended by undergraduate and graduate students, postdocs, and research and academic scientists, as well as K-12 educators. Conference activities are centered on exposing students to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) opportunities; guiding students in career development; and showcasing research by minority students in graduate and undergraduate programs through oral and poster presentations. Mentoring begins well before the meeting, with at least two experts reviewing each submitted abstract and sending detailed feedback to the student author. More than 800 student abstracts were accepted to the 2009 conference (the abstracts can be downloaded from http://www.sacnas.org/abstracts.cfm). All poster and oral presentations were evaluated using a similar process. This year in particular, the conference included several activities focused on connecting students with science professionals in one-on-one settings. Consequently, in addition to staffing their exhibit, Flores and Gutierrez were able to have in-depth conversations with students on topics ranging from working for the USGS to pursuing graduate studies and exploring different disciplines via internship opportunities.

Next year's SACNAS National Conference will be held September 30 to October 3, 2010, in Anaheim, California. For more information about SACNAS, its national conference, and its mission statement, visit http://www.sacnas.org/. Anyone in the USGS who is interested in participating in exhibitor activities, volunteering as a speaker, or passing along information and opportunities for students at the next SACNAS conference is invited to contact Claudia Flores (cflores@usgs.gov) or Ben Gutierrez (bgutierrez@usgs.gov).

Related Sound Waves Stories
USGS Coastal and Marine Geology Program is Represented at 2007 SACNAS National Conference
Jan. / Feb. 2008

Related Web Sites
Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS)
national society
Woods Hole Diversity Advisory Committee
Marine Biological Laboratory, Northeast Fisheries Science Center, Sea Education Association, USGS-Woods Hole, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole Research Center
SACNAS Student Abstracts

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SACNAS National Conference

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Awards Awards for USGS Publication on the Coral Reef of South Moloka‘i, Hawai‘i

Staff New USGS Director Visits Centers in California

Gaye Farris Retires from the USGS National Wetlands Research Center

Publications Jan. / Feb. 2010 Publications List

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