Science needs a new face, and with any luck, it will get it. Diversity in science is an ongoing issue, but today I was able to see the richness, perspective, and talent that we will see as the scientific workforce diversifies. A very talented young man, an engineering student, stepped up to the podium at the LSAMP conference today, nervous at first and then sounding like the CEO of an alternative energy firm, discussing his research on alternative energy solutions for villages in Canada. His ideas, his perspectives, his presence-I could see that this guy was a leader, and was built to be a voice for science. The AMP program serves students from traditionally under-represented groups, and hearing talks by these students, including this student, an African-American, overwhelmed me with the realization of how urgent and important it is to support these students, connect them with opportunities to ensure their success and set the stage for the innovation that will arise from their brilliance. Their perspectives are needed. I know we hear this, but chatting with them at lunch, hearing about their goals to get a Ph.D. or a good job in science, looking for funding, certainly, it drove me even higher in my goal to connect students with opportunities to help them succeed, but I hope that others reading this will be similarly moved to take a few minutes this week to reach out to a student walking in the halls of their science building, consider mentoring more, or hook a student up with an opportunity. It definitely requires that you be proactive when you already have so much going on, it asks that you go above and beyond, but isn’t that what we’re here for? Isn’t that what we owe after so many invested in us? Isn’t that our obligation, our responsibility, after we made it, to show others how to get where they’d like to go? Connect them with the SACNAS website, the LSAMP website, or email me and I’ll send resources your way. I was hearing their goals, and their uncertainty about how to get there-lots of “I’ll get that Ph.D….right.” It is right. It’s not too big for you. It is for you, if that is what you want.
If anyone who got my card reads this, then this is what I have to tell you: Keep going. Reach out for help. Ask for what you need, and assume the resources are there for you, because they are, you just need someone to help you find them and support you while you pursue them. We’re out there. You can drop me a line.
And to the young man who spoke today about villages in Canada, deep-water wind turbines, and the village plan, you killed it-I can’t wait to see where you’re at in ten years.