Sustainable Research Pathways 2015

The SRP Group at Berkeley Lab.

In 2015, a partnership between Sustainable Horizons Institute (SHI) and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory led to the creation of the Sustainable Research Pathways (SRP) program. The goal of SRP is to connect computing sciences faculty and students from underrepresented groups (minorities, women, people with disabilities, first generation scholars, smaller colleges & universities) with staff at Berkeley Lab, and form research collaborations. SHI and LBNL supported 16 faculty to attend the pilot SRP workshop, share their research, and explore research collaborations. The program outcomes were greater than expected, and many of the participants continue to benefit from the strong connections they made with scientists at the lab.

The Poster Blitz event.

The SRP Program began  as faculty from a variety of institutions, including: Tuskegee University, Southern University and A&M College, and Harvard University, submitted applications to attend a “matching” workshop at Berkeley Lab. After a team reviewed applications, invitations were sent to selected participants. A few months later in December 2015, 16 faculty members were funded to attend a workshop at Berkeley Lab. During this fast-paced one-day workshop, faculty had the opportunity to showcase their research and abilities during a poster session, as an audience of Berkeley Lab staff sought possibilities research collaborations. 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.

Dr. Sally Ellingson found many benefits from participating in SRP.

Near the conclusion of the summer research program, Dr. Mary Ann Leung, President of SHI 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 coming to an end! Dr. Sally Ellingson, a faculty member from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine Markey, felt that the SRP Program was extremely beneficial for her. Expressing her enthusiasm, she said: “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!” Dr. Ellingson returned to Berkeley Lab the following year. She has co-published with a Berkeley Lab mentor and presented papers on her and her students’ work at international conferences.

Dr. Samar Swaid, an Associate Professor of Computer Science from Philander Smith College, was also impacted by her participation in the SRP program. She shared that the program was “well designed and planned”, and she was inspired by the way that the program “supported [her] efforts to build links with the lab to have on-going summer research opportunities.” Matched faculty were given the opportunity to engage their students in the summer research program by participating as faculty-student teams. Dr. Swaid presented her Berkeley Lab research at the 2017 Society of Industrial and Applied Mathematics Computational Science and Engineering conference and has also participated in the Broader Engagement program run by SHI. The students who were involved agreed that the summer research program was an inspiration to them as well. One of Dr. Swaid’s students, 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 better than we had ever imagined. Because of the success of the SRP program and its lasting impacts on scientific careers, the SRP Program is entering its fourth year of bringing lab researchers together with faculty and students from diverse backgrounds!

Read about our 2016 and 2017 SRP programs.