50 students attend national multi-cultural science conference

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Healani Chang, (808) 956-2146
SACNAS Chapter Advisor, SACNAS
Posted: Oct 24, 2013

‘Ilima SACNAS Chapter members at the SACNAS National Conference in San Antonio.
‘Ilima SACNAS Chapter members at the SACNAS National Conference in San Antonio.
Leina‘ala Bright shares her research.
Leina‘ala Bright shares her research.

About 50 members of the ‘Ilima SACNAS (Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science) Chapter at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa recently attended the 2013 SACNAS National Conference in San Antonio, Texas. The event was a consortium of student and professional research presentations in numerous Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields.  Keynote presentations included Nobel laureates and other highly regarded scientists.  Hundreds of graduate school programs and industry employers from across the country came to recruit top prospects in the SACNAS community of 3,500 attendees.

The ‘Ilima Chapter brought aloha to the conference by offering an ‘oli and cultural gift to conference organizers during a chapter inception ceremony. Chapter members returned home successfully with three presentation awards: Kaho Tisthammer (Marine Biology PhD student, UH Mānoa), Kaile Costa (Marine Biology major, KCC) and Motusaga Vaeoso (Biology Major, Chaminade University of Honolulu).

The SACNAS conference offers opportunities to network and develop leadership and professional skills for students and professionals alike.  It provided the environment for first generation disadvantaged students in higher education to raise spirits and reinforce high goals and standards.  Said Cell and Molecular Biology PhD student Narrissa Spies, "(The SACNAS conference) is an excellent opportunity to network with other scientists who know what it feels like to be the first."  Chapter President and marine biology PhD student Austin Shelton said that "SACNAS is a welcoming place for Pacific Island students to share their research and find career resources at the national level. It’s amazing that even Nobel Prize winners stop to listen to your science presentations."

Chapter advisor and former national board member Dr. Healani Chang shared her enthusiasm for the future of ‘Ilima and SACNAS, stating that the conference has "grown in size and sponsorship. University STEM programs and private industry are recognizing the high quality posters and orals which, over the years, has reached a new standard."  Added Dr. Maile Goo, Principal Investigator of the UH Mānoa SEED program, "The conference creates an absolute sense of student awareness in raising self-confidence and self-mastery.  It's a one-stop-shop for finding out everything you need to know about grad school.  You don't go to them, they come to you.  The goal is the highest degree possible."

SACNAS, a national organization celebrating its 40th national conference, is dedicated to advancing underrepresented minorities in the STEM fields.  The local ‘Ilima SACNAS Chapter at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa is open to all ‘Oʻahu undergraduates, graduate students, faculty and professionals in STEM.  The ‘Ilima Chapter was formed in March 2013 and now has over 100 members from UH Mānoa, Kapiʻolani Community College, Honolulu Community College, and Chaminade University of Honolulu.  The ‘Ilima Chapter thanks mentors and sponsors that provided attendee travel funds; they include the SACNAS National Organization, UH Mānoa Student Activity and Program Fee Board, UH Mānoa McNair Program and UH Mānoa Graduate Professional Access Program. To become involved with the ‘Ilima Chapter, write sacnas@hawaii.edu or like its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/uhsacnas.

(Full caption for second photo above)  UH Mānoa Hawaiian Studies graduate student Leina‘ala Bright shares her research about aquaponics and native Hawaiian plants with Nobel Prize winner Dr. Martin Chalfie at the SACNAS 2013 national conference.

For more information and additional photos, contact:

Chapter President, Austin Shelton, austin.j.shelton@gmail.com, (808) 782-9634

Chapter Advisor, Dr. Healani Chang, healani@pbrc.hawaii.edu, (808) 358-0055

National SACNAS website: www.sacnas.org