Now in its fourteenth year, the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS) is the largest conference for students from groups that are under-represented in the sciences and interested in pursuing advanced training in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Linda Birnbaum, Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and the National Toxicology Program (NTP), was the Society of Toxicology (SOT)-sponsored speaker at this year’s ABRCMS conference, November 12–15, 2014, in San Antonio, Texas.
Her talk “Embracing Diversity, Embracing Ourselves” was featured in the career track of the meeting. She stated that: “the NIEHS’s greatest asset is the talented federal workforce who fuel our innovation and advances. By actively building a rich and diverse faculty, we can ensure future successes within the Institute. Through the integration of diverse perspectives, the scientific community has expanded both its vision and capabilities. But maintaining a diverse workforce requires a focus on the individuals, allowing for individualized support and work-life balance.” Dr. Birnbaum discussed the importance of work-life balance and diversity while sharing her own winding career path and her experiences and decisions balancing her career and family.
Jose Manautou not only provided the introduction for Dr. Birnbaum but also was the contact in the SOT exhibit booth. Dr. Manautou was accepted to participate in the Mentoring Strategies Workshop, an intensive, facilitated interactive ideas lab designed to foster collaborations and innovative thinking. This workshop focused on tackling the greatest mentoring challenges, especially as related to building interdisciplinary research teams and broadening participation in STEM. Pictured at the left: Dr. Birnbaum is at the podium and Dr. Manautou is seated.
SOT has supported speakers and a booth at this meeting for many years through the efforts of the Committee on Diversity Initiatives (CDI). The conference attracts about 1,700 undergraduate students, 400 graduate students and postdoctoral scientists, and 1,200 faculty, program directors, and administrators. More than 500 representatives from graduate programs at US colleges and universities as well as scientists from government agencies, foundations, and professional scientific societies join ABRCMS in the exhibitors program to share information about graduate school and summer internship opportunities.
ABRCMS is sponsored by the National Institue of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS). This conference provides a dynamic venue to promote opportunities for young scientists to build their professional and academic skill set and to begin career paths into STEM fields. The CDI is excited to be able to support SOT’s commitment to enhancing diversity in STEM through conferences, such as ABRCMS, and other programs focused on developing this pipeline of talent.