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January 1993

CRPC Participates in National Conference to Increase Minority Representation in Undergraduate and Graduate Programs

Cristina Villalobos, Computational and Applied Mathematics graduate student, and Melisa Ramos, Computational and Applied Mathematics Masters student, help staff the Rice/CRPC booth at the SACNAS Conference.

Lucille Barrera, science teacher at West University Elementary School, gives a presentation at the SACNAS Conference on cognitive memory.

Melisa Ramos, Computational and Applied Mathematics Masters student, reviews online information for graduate school at Rice University.

Theresa Chatman, CRPC Manager of Outreach Programs, demonstrates online Rice University graduate school information while preparing for the opening of the SACNAS Conference exhibit area.

Cristina Villalobos and Leticia Velazquez help staff the Rice/CRPC booth at the SACNAS Conference.

Christian, Melisa Ramos, and Illya Hicks of the Computational and Applied Mathematics Department at Rice University, take a moment to pose for a photo while helping to staff the Rice/CRPC booth at the SACNAS Conference.

Cynthia Lanius, CRPC Manager of K-12 Programs, gives a presentation on fractals to some of the teacher participants at the SACNAS Conference.

Richard Tapia, CRPC Director of Education and Human Resources, introduces Nobel Prize winner and keynote speaker Richard Smalley at the SACNAS Conference.
Since its inception in 1989, the CRPC has developed and been involved in numerous educational programs to increase the number of minority students pursuing advanced degrees and careers in science, mathematics, and engineering. As part of this effort, researchers, professors, K-12 teachers, and graduate students from the CRPC and Rice University recently participated in the Sixth Annual Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) Conference.Held October 9-12 at the Adam's Mark Hotel in Houston, the conference addressed the nationwide need for Chicano/Latino and Native American students to pursue graduate education and obtain the advanced degrees necessary for research and science teaching careers at all levels. It served to create national networks of students, educators, and professionals working to increase the representation of minorities in science; enabled mentoring of undergraduate students; shared current research of SACNAS scientists and university students; and provided opportunities for participants to meet with university representatives and funding agencies.The conference featured graduate school application and grant-writing workshops; K-12 teacher workshops; exhibitor and recruiter sessions; graduate and undergraduate poster presentations; graduate student talks; social functions; and award presentations. Richard Tapia, CRPC Director of Education and Outreach Programs and Rice Noah Harding Professor of Computational and Applied Mathematics, chaired the NASA-sponsored K-12 Teacher Workshops on October 11 and spoke on "Awareness and Sensitivity Issues Affecting K-12 Education." He introduced keynote speaker Richard Smalley, 1996 Laureate in Chemistry and Rice Physics professor.Other CRPC-affiliated participants included Cynthia Lanius, CRPC Manager of K-12 Programs and Milby High School mathematics teacher, and Lucille Barrera, West University Elementary School science teacher, who conducted teacher workshops on hands-on math and science. Barrera made a special presentation about her award-winning "Scientist of the Month" program, which was inspired by a Tapia-led Mathematical and Computational Sciences Awareness (MCSA) Workshop for K-12 teachers that she attended at Rice several years ago.The CRPC and Rice also sponsored an exhibit featuring posters and demonstrations of current research projects being conducted by undergraduate and graduate students. Participating Rice students included Bill Christian, Illya Hicks, Regina Hill, Luis Melara, Melisa Ramos, Cristina Villalobos, Nikki Williams, and Pam Williams.Other SACNAS activities included a "Pow Wow" on October 10, and the SACNAS Awards Banquet and Cultural Night on October 11. Texas State Representative Diana Davila served as mistress of ceremonies at the banquet. Awards presented included the Vigil Poster Presentation Award, the NIH-sponsored Poster Session Award, the SACNAS-Eli Lilly Scholarship, and the SACNAS Distiguished Scientist Award.

At the conclusion of the conference, participants were able to do the following:

  • Assess opportunities available for undergraduate students and learn about graduate schools and summer research
  • Obtain information on graduate programs and make informed decisions regarding graduate school
  • Demonstrate an increased level of competency in writing independent investigator grant applications
  • Develop strategies that help students balance the demanding schedule of scientific research with family and other personal issues
  • Understand current trends in science, mathematics, and engineering research and education

For more information on the conference and SACNAS, see http://www.sacnas.org.