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STEM Students Present Research at Professional Conference

When four W&M undergraduate students were invited to present their research at a national meeting, the A&S Annual Fund helped to make it happen.Tana Palomino '21 discusses her research investigating metallothionein-like clusters.

The W&M student chapter of NOBCChE (National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers) has been meeting since Fall 2017, part of the Chemistry Department’s efforts to create a more inclusive atmosphere for students of color and to encourage more diversity within our Chemistry majors.

November 18-21, four of the students attended the group’s national conference, held in St. Louis. By design the conference is welcoming and supportive – an ideal setting for a student’s first experience presenting research.

The W&M students also participated in seminars and professional advancement workshops. At the conference’s career fair, they were able to network with representatives of graduate schools, medical schools, and industry to learn about future academic, work, and internship opportunities.

Attending the conference: (front) Leonie Qin '21 and Naa-Kwarley Quartey  '20, student chapter president; (back) Kenneth Li '21, faculty adviser Dana Lashley, Tana Palomino '21.Professor Dana Lashley serves as adviser to the W&M student chapter and also attended the conference. In her faculty role, she connected with representatives from Georgia Tech University, which hosts the FOCUS program inviting third- and fourth-year students to campus to learn about and explore graduate-level opportunities. Several W&M students have attended the program.

This year, Lashley said, “I was able to make more connections, for example with the University of Rochester, for a similar minorities-geared summer and workshop program taking place at their institution.”

Since its founding in 2017, the W&M student chapter of NOBCChE has been active in outreach events, working to increase diversity in STEM at William & Mary. The group has more than 20 student members and is growing steadily.