I was fortunate to have the opportunity to present my summer REU research at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minoritized Students (ABRCMS) this month. My research was on analyzing the impact that New England oyster farms may have on the marine sediment microbial community. This was my first time attending a national conference, and it was also my first time winning an award for presenting! I learned about cool new research within my field and others, and I also got to meet with graduate recruiters from all over the nation. As I am in the process of applying for graduate schools, it was valuable to have the opportunity to network with the schools I’m applying to, as well as learn about the different programs at other schools. There were networking lunches and dinners where I was able to talk with other students and professionals in various fields. I also had the opportunity to attend various workshops that centered on professional and personal development. There were multiple speakers who were not only inspiring but also gave me insight into how to navigate my future in science.
Outside of all the benefits that ABRCMS offers for professional development, it also helped me feel seen as a minority student in science. Often, it’s difficult to think that you’re capable of achieving career milestones when it hasn’t been done before in your family, or you don’t see yourself represented in your field. Being able to be surrounded by other scientists who share similar backgrounds to me made me more confident that I can achieve my career goals, and it also made me feel like I was part of a bigger community outside of what I already knew. I made new friends who are not only passionate about science like I am, but they also have the same struggles and shared experiences that come with being a minority student. Being able to talk about our shared experiences was very meaningful to me and it made us all feel like we were seen. What was even more impactful was hearing from prominent professionals in our fields that they faced the same struggles and being able to see how they overcame them. As the only representative from UT, I was ecstatic that I won us an award! I was so happy to get UT’s name out there at such a large conference and represent UT in such a positive light. ABRCMS is a very welcoming conference with the goal of uplifting future scientists to their full potential and I am so lucky that I got to take part in it.
My journey of making it to ABRCMS is not one that I accomplished on my own. I first and foremost must thank my wonderful mentor Dr. Lauren Logsdon. I didn’t see myself as a scientist at all before I met her. Her confidence in me and her continued support of me both in the lab and outside of the lab has changed the trajectory in my development as a scientist and I don’t think I can ever thank her enough. I want to acknowledge the UT biology department and all my professors for being so supportive of me and my goals over the past few years. They have all created the foundation for my development in science. I also want to thank the UT honors program for supporting me to go to ABRCMS. ABRCMS has been one of the best experiences of my college career and none of it would have been possible without the UT honors program’s continued support of me and my endeavors.