Sustainable Research Pathways 2015
In 2015, Sustainable Horizons Institute and Lawrence Berkeley National lab partnered together with an innovative idea to increase in the breadth and quality of the Computing Sciences workforce. This idea led to the emergence of a new program: the Sustainable Research Pathways (SRP) program. The SRP Program originated as a method to connect scientists from underrepresented groups with scientists at larger institutions, like Berkeley Lab, to support them in building connections and ongoing research collaborations. In 2015, SHI and LBNL supported 16 faculty to attend the pilot SRP workshop to share their research and explore research collaborations. The program results were even greater than ever expected, and many of the participants continue to benefit from the strong connections they made with scientists at the lab.
The SRP Program began its organizing process as faculty from a variety of institutions, such as Tuskegee University, Southern University, A&M College, and Harvard University, submitted applications to attend a “matching” workshop at Berkeley Lab. After a team reviewed applicants, invitations were sent to selected participants. A few months later in December 2015, 16 faculty members were funded to attend the workshop at Berkeley Lab. During this fast-paced one-day workshop, invited faculty had the opportunity to showcase their research and abilities during a poster session, helping lab staff explore possible areas of research collaboration with the faculty members. The workshop concluded with mini-meetings between lab staff and faculty to facilitate partnerships for the summer research experience. After matches were made, SHI helped faculty and their students prepare for the summer research program, which ran from the beginning of June through early August 2016.
Near the conclusion of the summer research program, Sustainable Horizons Institute’s President, Dr. Mary Ann Leung, traveled to Berkeley Lab and visited with the SRP participants to inquire about their experience. The comments were overwhelmingly positive, and many could not believe how fast the program was already coming to an end! Dr. Sally Ellingson, a faculty member from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine Markey Cancer Center, felt that the SRP Program was extremely beneficial to her. “If it wasn’t for Mary Ann encouraging me to apply for the SRP workshop I wouldn’t have even known or thought about opportunities to work at Berkeley Labs for the summer… I am greatly thankful to our mentors, the Computational Research Division, and Sustainable Horizons for enabling this great opportunity for us!” she shared. Dr. Samar Swaid, another faculty participant from Philander Smith College, also had a positive experience. She shared that the program was “well designed and planned”, and that she was grateful that the program “supported [her] efforts to build links with the lab to have on-going summer research opportunities.”
Matched faculty were also able to engage their students during the summer research program by participating in faculty-student teams. The students who were involved agreed that summer research program was beneficial to them as well. Dr. Swaid’s student, Mnsa Maat noted:
My experience here at the lab has been a great one. Through the program I’ve been exposed to a lot of new and interesting topics and ideas that I never would have known about were it not for this program. I’ve met some outstanding people here who were kind enough to listen and impart some knowledge on me that will last with me long after my stay here.
The results of the first SRP Program were even better than ever imagined. Because of the positive impact the program has produced, the program was repeated for a second year in 2016. You can read more about the 2016 SRP program here.