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UC Riverside Reaches Out to Prospective Doctoral Students at SACNAS


UC Riverside Reaches Out to Prospective Doctoral Students at National Conference for Underrepresented Minorities

At UCR booth, science and engineering faculty answer questions, share information about university’s doctoral programs

(October 4, 2010)

UC Riverside enjoyed pride of place at the 2010 conference of the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science. Photo credit: UCR Strategic Communications. (More photos below.)Enlarge

UC Riverside enjoyed pride of place at the 2010 conference of the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science. Photo credit: UCR Strategic Communications. (More photos below.)

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – The University of California, Riverside enjoyed pride of place at the 2010 conference of the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS), which took place Sept. 30-Oct. 3 at the Anaheim Convention Center, Calif.

The platinum sponsor of this year’s conference, UC Riverside had a booth located prominently in the main exhibit hall that was visited by hundreds of students and faculty members from universities and institutions throughout the country.

Chancellor Timothy P. White addressed nearly 3,500 SACNAS participants in a speech he gave at the conference on Sept. 29 in which he encouraged students not to lose sight of their academic goals. The chancellor, himself a first generation college student, pointed to his own career from community college through graduate school as an example of what is possible. “If I can do it, you can do it,” he told the crowd.

Each year SACNAS, one of whose founders is UCR alumna Marigold Linton, draws some of the most highly motivated undergraduate students from all over the United States who are looking for doctoral programs to join. Nearly all the students attending the conference are from underrepresented minorities majoring in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.

“I thank all the faculty members and staff who volunteered their time to attend SACNAS, staff our booth, and help spread the word to visitors about UCR’s high-quality graduate programs,” said Joseph Childers, the dean of the Graduate Division, who attended the conference. “We could not have pulled this off as successfully as we did without their help. Our participation in SACNAS came at a very opportune time for us, the conference taking place just days after the National Research Council scored UCR very well in its recent rankings for doctoral programs.”

Childers said faculty and staff at the UCR booth handed out brochures to visitors about the university’s graduate programs, answered students’ questions about research opportunities at the university and advised them of research projects currently underway involving students currently enrolled in doctoral programs. Students interested in enrolling in one of UCR’s doctoral programs could do so on site by using one of several computers available at the booth.

“The 170 SACNAS students who visited UCR on Sept. 30 for a special orientation to the university’s doctoral programs were extremely impressed with both the lab tours we offered and the overall reception they got from UCR’s faculty, staff, and students during their visit,” he said.

One such student who took a lab tour on campus is Victor Molina Lopez, an undergraduate student studying biomathematics at Universidad Metropolitana, Puerto Rico. A day later, he stopped by the UCR booth at SACNAS to indicate his interest in studying neuroscience at UCR. “I enjoyed visiting the campus and plan to attend UCR, where I hope to explore how mathematics and neuroscience can work together,” he said.

Also attending SACNAS was Victor Rodgers, a professor of bioengineering, who said the 170 students who visited campus from SACNAS on Sept. 30 were impressed by both the graduate programs and the diversity of the student population. “U.S. News & World Report ranks our campus fourth in the nation and first in California for the diversity of its student population,” Rodgers said. “For many SACNAS students, UCR is therefore an attractive place to attend graduate school.”

When students visiting the UCR booth at SACNAS approached Richard Cardullo, the divisional dean for Life Sciences, for advice, he urged them to start with what they are passionate about. “After that, if you make a connection with a program and a faculty member, you are well on your way to success,” he told them. “SACNAS is an excellent occasion to make such connections.”

Mark Matsumoto, the associate dean of the Bourns College of Engineering, is optimistic that UCR’s participation in SACNAS will further diversify the university’s graduate student population. “This dynamic conference is not only an opportunity for us to meet excellent undergraduate students from all over the country but also to expose them to the high quality of UCR’s doctoral programs,” he said. “Our recent National Research Council rankings are testimony to the quality of our research.”

While the undergraduate population at UCR ranks highly in diversity, the diversification of UCR’s graduate student population is a work in progress, said Leah Haimo, the associate dean of the Graduate Division. “Our graduate population is not yet as diverse as the population of the state of California,” she said. “But we are working on closing that gap and we are making excellent progress.”

Already helping that effort is Jorge Perez, a graduate student in mathematics and the secretary of the SACNAS Chapter at UCR, which began in April this year.

“We plan to visit local community colleges soon, starting with the College of the Desert, to talk to students there, network with them, and assist them in finding research opportunities and summer internships,” he said. “The goal is to increase the number of underrepresented minorities at UCR at the graduate level.”

Such an increase would greatly benefit biomedical sciences, said Monica Carson, an associate professor of biomedical sciences.

“Our field, like many other fields of research, needs diversity of lifestyles, experiences and paths to enable better research and allow for a better understanding of the medical problems people face,” she said. “In academia, diversity equals excellence.”
Faculty and staff at the UCR booth handed out brochures to visitors about the university’s graduate programs, answered students’ questions about research opportunities at the university and advised them of research projects currently underway involving students currently enrolled in doctoral programs. Photo credit: UCR Strategic Communications.Enlarge

Faculty and staff at the UCR booth handed out brochures to visitors about the university’s graduate programs, answered students’ questions about research opportunities at the university and advised them of research projects currently underway involving students currently enrolled in doctoral programs. Photo credit: UCR Strategic Communications.

Visitors to the UCR booth got to check out some of the bugs studied in the Department of Entomology. Photo credit: UCR Strategic Communications.Enlarge

Visitors to the UCR booth got to check out some of the bugs studied in the Department of Entomology. Photo credit: UCR Strategic Communications.

A student explains her research to Connie Nugent (right), an associate professor of cell biology at UCR and a judge at SACNAS.  Photo credit: UCR Strategic Communications.Enlarge

A student explains her research to Connie Nugent (right), an associate professor of cell biology at UCR and a judge at SACNAS. Photo credit: UCR Strategic Communications.

A student (left) discusses his research with Victor Rodgers (right), a professor of bioengineering at UCR and a judge at SACNAS.  Photo credit: UCR Strategic Communications.Enlarge

A student (left) discusses his research with Victor Rodgers (right), a professor of bioengineering at UCR and a judge at SACNAS. Photo credit: UCR Strategic Communications.

The UCR booth was located prominently in the main exhibit hall at the Anaheim Convention Center, and attracted many visitors. Photo credit: UCR Strategic Communications.Enlarge

The UCR booth was located prominently in the main exhibit hall at the Anaheim Convention Center, and attracted many visitors. Photo credit: UCR Strategic Communications.

The University of California, Riverside (www.ucr.edu) is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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