Emerging Researchers National (ERN) Conference in STEM (Washington, DC. 2015)

Last month, I got an amazing opportunity to interact with some of the brightest researchers across the United States. I was part of the IU-team (Dr. Yolanda Treviño (the Assistant Vice President for Strategy, Planning, and Assessment), Dr. Garfield Warren (physics), Dr. Sara Skrabalak (chemistry) and myself) that attended the 5th annual Emerging Researchers National (ERN) Conference in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) held in Washington, DC on February 19-21.

About 1000 undergraduate and graduate students presented their research at the ERN conference. The ERN conference is hosted by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Education and Human Resources Programs (EHR) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) Division of Human Resource Development (HRD), within the Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR). The conference is aimed at institutions, which participate in programs funded by the NSF HRD Unit, including underrepresented minorities (URM) and persons with disabilities (source: http://www.emerging-researchers.org/).

ERN is an amazing platform for research collaboration, career networking, and for exploring the breadth and depth of scientific research for the conference participants. This is probably the largest conglomerate of interdisciplinary research presentations, representing mostly the minority serving institutions (MSIs). This very quality of ERN makes it very attractive for recruiters from IU. The following image shows Professor Skrabalak and Dr. Treviño interacting with a conference participant (left to right, respectively).

ERN15_0458 Photo Credit: Colella Digital

The conference offers workshops for students at all stages of undergraduate and graduate education,, e.g. admissions in graduate school, finding funding for graduate school, strategies for success in graduate school. The plenary speeches of this year’s conference were full of vigor and vision, which greatly inspired the audience. Vint Cerf (one of the fathers of the internet), Manu Platt (professor at Georgia Tech and Emory University), and Ainissa Ramirez (a scientist, and a science communicator) delivered some of these fantastic speeches. The below images show audience at a plenary (top), and a group of students waiting to ask questions to Dr. Ramirez (bottom).

ERN15_2065Photo Credit: Colella DigitalERN15_0314Photo Credit: Colella Digital

Apart from witnessing amazing science being done by students from across the country, this conference was a great networking experience for me personally.

Active participation of IU professors and presence of top leadership at this conference shows IU’s commitment to diversity, which is a splendid model for other large institutions to imitate.