Sustainable Horizons Institute’s (SHI) newest innovative program has just completed its first summer experience at Berkeley Lab in Berkeley, California. The goal of the Sustainable Research Pathways Fellows (SRPF) program, a partnership between Berkeley Lab and SHI, is to connect STEM faculty and students from underrepresented groups (minorities, women, smaller colleges & universities) with staff at large institutions such as Berkeley Lab for research collaborations.
The process began in October 2015 as faculty applications were submitted to the program to attend a matching workshop at Berkeley Lab. A team reviewed applicants and invitations were sent to faculty. Sixteen faculty members were funded to attend the workshop at Berkeley Lab in December 2015. During this fast-paced two-days, invited faculty heard from lab staff about possible areas of research collaboration and then faculty had the opportunity to showcase their research and abilities during a poster blitz and session. The workshop concluded with mini-meetings between interested lab staff and faculty to facilitate partnerships during the summer research experience. After matches were made, Sustainable Horizons Institute assisted the matched faculty and their students prepare for the summer research program, which ran from the beginning of June through early August.
Sustainable Horizons Institute’s President, Dr. Mary Ann Leung, recently traveled to Berkeley Lab and visited with the SRPF program members to inquire about how they felt the experience has been. The comments were overwhelmingly positive and many could not believe how fast the program was already coming to an end! Dr. Sally Ellingson, from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine Markey Cancer Center had this to say, “If it wasn’t for Mary Ann encouraging me to apply for the SRPF 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!” Samar Swaid, Ph.D., from Philander Smith College feels that the program was “well designed and planned that supported [her] efforts to build links with the lab to have on-going summer research opportunities.” The students also felt this summer research program has been beneficial as 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 Sustainable Research Pathways Fellows program has been successful in attaining its goals of connecting underrepresented groups with institutions usually out of reach to them and Sustainable Horizons Institute is looking forward to following the long-term partnerships created this summer at Berkeley!