Ever traveled to Canada?

I know Canada doesn’t sound too exotic, right? I was recently in Vancouver, Canada attending the Society for Research on Adolescence’s Biennial Meeting. This was the conference’s 14th gathering to date and the first time it was held outside of the United States. I attended in part, because I was selected as a 2012 Junior Mentor–an honor that pairs current doctoral students with selected  talented underrepresented undergraduate students whom are about to transition into graduate studies. As a Junior Mentor, I attended  an all day pre-conference, served on a panel having to do with graduate school funding, and I primarily spent my time mentoring and networking. Overall, participating in this program was the highlight of my trip.

Although I’m originally from the Pacific Northwest–this was my first time visiting Vancouver, Canada. I will admit, Vancouver, Canada is a beautiful place. My trip was a reminder that when I complete my Ph.D. program, I would love the opportunity to find a faculty or university position in my home region.

Reporting from the 2012 AAAS General Meeting

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the largest general scientific society in the world and is the organization that publishes one of the most reputable scientific journals – Science Magazine, with an impact factor of 31.36 in 2011. The 2012 AAAS General Meeting is being held from February 16 to 20 in Vancouver, Canada. The meeting covers a broad spectrum of topics ranging from climate change to renewable energy, from gene therapy to biodiversity, and from food safety to scientific communications. Here I want to highlight some of programs at the meeting that I found very inspiring:

  1. Student session aids. Undergraduate and graduate students can sign up to serve as session aids and get free registration. Each session aid is assigned 2-5 sessions with a total of ~7.5 hours of work load. The duties include time keeping, loading speaker’s presentation, getting tech support when there is technical problems with audio or video, etc.
  2. President’s address. The current President of AAAS  Dr. Nina Fedoroff gave an extraordinary overview of her scientific career path. She managed to complete undergraduate education as a teen mom and got inspired by Barbara McClintock (who was later awarded a Nobel Prize) during her graduate years and eventually grew into a leader scientist serving as a Professor at multiple institutions as well as the National Science Board of the US.
  3. Career Development Workshops. I attended one of the workshops entitled “Sharing Science: Presenting Yourself and Your Work”. During this 90-minute-long interactive workshop, exercises and instructions were given on how to convey your research to a general audience in 90 seconds in plain language. Attendees worked in groups to  practice and critique on one other’s mini-speech and were encouraged to practice talking about it at home until you make it simple enough that your grandma would understand it.
  4. Family Science Days. Over the weekend, families with children of all ages have the opportunity to come to the meeting and learn everyday science through different interactive demonstrations provided by various public outreach programs and organizations. The exhibition hall has been packed with eager kids and their parents who learn together with their children.

    A scientist showing a girl how solar panel powers a wind mill.

I’ve been going to seminars that are not only related to my graduate research, but also those that cover topics in education, healthcare, medicine, and energy. I have been learning so much about different disciplines in Science and the different approaches the scholars take to make our earth a better place. I was also able to get to know some great human beings who not only do great science, but also promote human well-being through collaborative efforts. (If you are intersted, Google these names: )Hans Rosling, Mike Lazaridis, Michael Hayden, just to name a few) It has been a great conference and I’m going to enjoy the rest of it!

For more news on the 2012 AAAS General Meeting, visit http://www.aaas.org/.

Presenting at My First National Conference in Microbial Signaling

Last week I attended a five-day Gorden Research Conference (GRC) in Ventura, California. GRCs (https://www.grc.org/) are small and prestigious scientific conferences that cover a broad spectrum of STEM disciplines. Three weeks before the conference, I received an invitation from the conference chair to give a 10-minute mini-talk. As the majority of the talks were given by faculties, I was very honored to be one of the 5 graduate students/pos-docs selected for mini-talks. I put a lot of time and efforts on my presentation slides and practiced once in front of my research advisor, once at our lab meeting, and probably 10 times in my hotel room in Ventura. Ten minutes is a very short time for a science presentation, especially to an audience that may not be familiar with your work. I wanted it to be an informative and well-organized one as well as demonstrate the high impact of my findings to the cell biology field. My talk went pretty well and I received a lot of compliments and most importantly some feedback, comments and even critics. One of the professor from Germany even offered me a post-doc position in her lab. Being able to communicate with my peers working in the same field and exchange ideas really helped me better design experiments to complete my project. I also got to know many outstanding professors and students personally from all over the world. It was a very positive experience for me and I would definitely encourage you to attend conferences and meetings to advance your knowledge and open up your horizon.

Here is a picture of a Pacific Gray Whale that we spotted on a whale watching tour between the Channel Islands and Ventura harbor, which was the second best thing that happened there.


A few weeks ago, my friend and I presented at the Men and Women of Color Leadership Conference hosted at IU. This conference was attended by many grads, undergraduates and professional staff members from across the country. The theme of this year’s conference was “War on Education: What Does it Mean for U.S?” My friend and I were intrigued by the topic and the opportunity to present at a conference during our graduate school experience. This conference inspired a number of my peers to take action and ownership over our experiences here at IU and our careers. We were encouraged to do whatever we could to get the experience that we wanted when we first entered IU. It gave us a renewed sense of purpose and comraderie among our peers. Want to learn more about the conference, check out the website: http://www.indiana.edu/~moc/


I recently attended a McNair conference and I was impressed with how much work the McNair Scholars put into their research endeavors. As I spent time sitting in on presentations and reviewing poster sessions, also encouraging students to consider Indiana University for graduate studies, I immediately thought to myself that these students in attendance are the future of academia. When considering the present state of affairs in relation to retention and recruitment of underrepresented student populations, both undergraduate and graduate, as well as faculty of color in higher education, programs particularly such as McMair play a significant role in diversifying the academy. The early access to career and professional development was clearly evident in the quality of work presented by students.




Conference Travel Checklist

  • Poster in poster tube if you will present a poster (note: this counts as a carry on)
  • USB where your talk is stored if you are giving a talk
  • Address of your hotel and the conference venue
  • List of people you intend to introduce yourself to at the conference
  • List of economical restaurants near the conference venue
  • List of nice/expensive restaurants (for the one night you want to spoil yourself)
  • List of places nearby that you want to see. In case you have some time to tour the city.
  • One change of clothing for each conference day. Sometimes you can recycle some clothing (a pair of pants or a sports coat). Packing light is key! One extra change is ok, just in case, and maybe an extra pair of comfy shoes (because you will be walking a lot)
  • Granola bars (to keep you going through the long days)
  • Water bottle (to keep hydrated)
  • Cell phone and cell phone charger to contact colleagues for lunch/dinner plans (I always forget my charger!)

Wrapping up

Things are getting pretty busy these days. I am attending the American Educational Research Association (AERA) convention in New Orleans this weekend with one of my faculty members. We are presenting two sessions. The first paper examines how students of color perceive diversity at a predominantly White institution and the other explores how students create and maintain interpersonal relationships in college. These projects coincide with my research interests which examines student development in higher education. After I get back from the AERA conference, I plan to wrap up some projects at my assistantship, grade final papers, and work on final papers. Although these next few weeks are busy, I will find time to enjoy the weather. Bloomington is a nice place to visit in the spring and summer and I look forward to enjoying the city more once things slow down over the next few weeks.

Herman Hudson Symposium

I attended the eighth annual Herman C. Hudson symposium a few weeks ago and wanted to briefly discuss my experience. Although I attend many national conferences, I enjoy taking advantage of educational opportunities on the IU campus. Each year, the Graduate Society of the Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies brings together scholars, community activists, scholars, and other professionals to interrogate definitions of, theorize about, and imagine new possibilities for the African Diaspora. I attended a session examining Black masculinity, sexual transmitted infections, and hip-hop/street culture. For more information about the Herman C. Hudson symposium, please visit the African American and African Diaspora Studies at www.indiana.edu/~afroamer

Rural Center for AIDS/STD Prevention Conference – Indiana University Bloomington – April 7-8, 2011

I just wanted to share with you an abstract for an upcoming conference here at Indiana University Bloomington – Rural Center for AIDS/STD Prevention Conference. I will be presenting on Sexual Health and Risk Behaviors. Please refer to the link bellow to find more information about the conference and workshops:


Martinez,O, Dodge,B, Kelle, G, Schnarrs, PW, Reece, M, JD (2011). Sexual and HIV/STI Risk Behaviors of Bisexual Latino Men in the Midwestern United States. Rural Center for AIDS/STD Prevention Conference, HIV/STD Prevention in Rural Communities: Sharing Successful Strategies VII, Bloomington, IN.

Introduction: Existing research on bisexuality among Latino men has focused almost exclusively on HIV risk. Little recent information is available on the sexual health needs of Latino bisexual men, particularly outside urban areas on the East and West coasts of the United States. The Midwestern U.S. has a high number of recent Latino migrants, but little information is available regarding the wide range of sexual behaviors, including risky and protective, that Latino bisexual men in this region engage in.

Methods: Qualitative in-depth interviews were conducted and participants were also given the option to collect specimens for STI screening. The measures used to assess the sexual behaviors and factors sexual experiences with both male and female partners were taken from the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior (NSSHB). The data analyzed in this paper are restricted to the 25 men who identified as Latino.

Results: Participants reported engaging in a wide range of behaviors, both in terms of lifetime and recent sexual experiences. The most commonly reported sexual behaviors were masturbation, vaginal intercourse, and receiving oral sex. The majority of the men were insertive partners during anal sex with men with fewer reporting being the receptive partner. More participants reported alcohol use during their most recent sexual activity with a male partner, compared to alcohol use with their most recent female partner. Some participants reported not using condoms in their last sexual encounter with both male and female partners. All of the participants in the study participated in the optional self-administered diagnostics for STI.

Discussion: The study provides rich insights into the individual and socio-cultural factors, as well as the sexual and risk-related decision-making processes, of bisexual Latino men that could be used for sexual health promotion efforts. Future efforts may consider a community-based approach as it was successfully implemented in this study.

Spring Break: Conference and Relaxation

Similar to Tomika, I attended the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators conference in Philadelphia during Spring Break. As a member of the preconference committee, I was responsible for selecting programs for this portion of the convention. I attended a session by Dr. Frank Harris and Dr. Shaun Harper examining issues facing college men. This session coincided with one of my research areas which examine the social construction of masculinity and male identity development. A few days later, I presented a session with colleagues from Bowling Green State University, University of Michigan, University of Georgia examining the experiences of Black doctoral students at predominantly White institutions. Approximately 80 people attended the session. At the conclusion of the conference, I spent a few days in New Jersey and New York before heading back to Indiana.