New scholarship recognizes commitment to diversity

By Andrew Macintyre, ASBMB

The rich variety of perspectives and experiences that make up a diverse scientific community tend to enhance innovation. Indeed, we can all learn from those with different skill sets and different cultural, educational and social backgrounds. In recognition of the importance of diversity to the scientific and biomedical workforce, the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology’s Minority Affairs Committee recently launched a new diversity-in-science scholarship. The Distinguished Undergraduate Scholarship was first announced at the 2015 annual meeting in Boston and provides financial support to students who actively promote diversity in biochemistry or molecular biology.

All ASBMB undergraduate members are eligible to apply for the scholarship. Applicants have to explain how they help to build diversity on campus or in the wider scientific community, describe challenges they have overcome in pursuit of their education and outline how the scholarship could help them achieve their career goals.

A panel drawn from both the MAC and the Student Chapters’ steering committee reviewed applications for the 2015 scholarship. The panel was led by MAC members Lana Saleh and Stacey Slijepcevic, who together spearheaded the development of the award.

The enthusiasm and caliber of the scholarship applicants were impressive, but most striking was the range of activities undertaken to promote diversity. Applicants organized a science-exposure program for inner-city children, tutored first-generation college students in science, technology, engineering, and math, supported lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender and disabled students on campus, organized women-in-science networking events, ran a Hispanic scholarship fund, mentored biochemistry students from underrepresented minorities, and volunteered at head start programs for economically disadvantaged children. The applicants’ commitments to fostering diversity were even more notable given the challenges many of them faced pursuing their own educations.

Five Distinguished Undergraduate Scholarships were awarded for the academic year 2015 – 2016, with each recipient receiving $2,000 toward the cost of tuition.

The 2015 scholarship recipients:

  • Syrena Bracey (University of Maryland, Baltimore County)
  • Matthew Cheung (St. Louis University)
  • Craig McLean (University of Arkansas)
  • Shelby Newsad (Ohio State University) [declined award]
  • Nicholas Oropeza (Arizona State University)
  • Jose Reyes (Texas State University)

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