ALSAMP logo - red outline of the state of Alabama with a white torch in the center
Courtesy ALSAMP

The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), a part of The University of Alabama System, recently co-hosted the 2022 Spring Research Conference for the Alabama Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (ALSAMP). ALSAMP is a program funded by the National Science Foundation as part of a project entitled Alabama LSAMP: Sustainability of Best Practices for STEM Education and Research.

The conference was planned on behalf of UAH by Dr. Sharifa Love-Rutledge in the College of Science and Christopher Smith in the UAH Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (ODEI), working in collaboration with fellow north Alabama alliance members Alabama A&M University and Oakwood University.

The project aims to implement and study innovative, evidence-based, sustainable best practices in STEM education and research for undergraduates to increase the quality and quantity of underrepresented minority students in STEM educational experiences. Each spring ALSAMP participants from across the state meet to present and discuss research findings.

The alliance consists of four-year institutions, community colleges, high schools and industry, and it has been continuously funded by the LSAMP Program since 1991. Alliance program objectives include:

  • Increasing the number of students from underrepresented minority groups who earn STEM degrees, with emphasis on STEM undergraduate degrees.
  • Enhancing the STEM educational experience for underrepresented minority students.
  • Increasing retention and progression of underrepresented minority students to baccalaureate degrees.
  • Enabling successful transfer and matriculation of underrepresented minority students from two-year to four-year institutions in STEM programs.
  • Increasing access to high quality undergraduate research experiences.
  • Facilitating seamless transition of underrepresented minority students into STEM graduate programs.

The keynote address this year was given by UAH alumna Dr. Kimberly Hobbs, introduced by Dr. Joe Ng. The spring conference was highlighted by a poster competition moderated by the UAH Minority Graduate Student Association, a competitive field of presenters representing nine alliance schools. The competition featured a strong showing by the UAH College of Science in particular. Two UAH College of Science students were selected as winners. Maleah Rhem, a senior physics and astronomy student, took first place in the Physical Sciences/Math/Computer Science category, while Sidney Martin, a senior biology major, placed second in the Biological and Agricultural Sciences category.

Conference participants also benefitted from professional development panels with a number of UAH alumni serving as panelists, including computer science alumni Veronica Hunter and Jonathan Shields, who spoke about industry and government, while fellow computer science alumna Cailin Simpson spoke about graduate school. In addition, Kristin Hawthorne moderated a panel on professional school, with Desalyn Johnson serving as a panelist.

The program concluded with a celebration lauding LSAMP program seniors Jamya Patterson, a chemistry major with a minor in biology, Sidney Martin for biological sciences, Juwuan Turner-Howard in computer science, Daniel Torres in mechanical engineering, Briana Stanley in biological sciences and Maleah Rhem for physics and astronomy. Finally, Sidney Martin was recognized as Outstanding Scholar.

Programs like LSAMP make a significant difference in contributing to reversing the loss of U.S. STEM talent by promoting systemic change in institutional culture to enhance retention of underrepresented minority students in STEM disciplines. Activities that help program participants reach their goals and objectives include: performance-based stipend support, summer bridge programs, the spring research conference, a community college bridge to four-year institution programs, summer research experiences for high school students and undergraduates, as well as outreach to middle school students.

Principal Investigators, Co-Investigators, Grant Accountants, Evaluation Specialists and other Faculty/Staff will meet in the fall at an Executive Board Meeting to discuss the status of current and future projects, as well as review the progress of previous semesters.