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On a mission to diversify the sciences: Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students

Logo of the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students

Earlier last month, members of the IU School of Medicine community attended the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS). The conference was virtual this year due to COVID-19 precautions, however, its mission to encourage minority, first-generation, veteran and disabled students to pursue higher education in STEM remains the same.

Picture of Dominique BaldwinDominique Baldwin, a third year PhD student studying biochemistry and molecular biology, attended as a graduate student recruiter for IU School of Medicine. Baldwin has been a regular attendee of the conference since completing his undergraduate degree and, he has volunteered to be recruiter at ABRCMS for the past two years.

“I will have to admit that the shift to a virtual conference was different. But overall, I am happy with how the conference progressed. It was fun to interact with potential incoming students and I am always happy to help others with their own journeys,” said Baldwin.

Picture of Britney HieserBritney Hieser, Education Program Coordinator within the Graduate Division of IU School of Medicine, also attended as a recruiter.

“While it was certainly different from the in-person experience, it was still such a fun time. I love getting to meet new people, learn about their experiences and interests, and talk about IU School of Medicine and Indianapolis,” said Hieser.

Baldwin appreciated the webinar sessions focused on diversifying scientific work and spaces in addition to sessions providing guidance on pursuing a career in academia.

“There are a lot of fears and uncertainties around rising through academia and finding a career following graduation. However, the presence of organizations such as ABRCMS help ease those fears and provide trainees with the knowledge necessary to strive,” said Baldwin.

Baldwin remembers having those fears and doubts in his own academic journey and thanks ABRCMS for encouraging him to pursue a career in science and academia.

“ABRCMS was the first time that I entered a scientific space and saw a large number of people that looked like me. I remember during my undergraduate years feeling like I didn’t belong since, more often than not, I was the only African American student and being first generation as well, there were a lot of ideas about progressing through school and knowledge that I did not know. ABRCMS provided talks that instilled confidence in me, gave me the knowledge and tools necessary to progress to graduate school and alleviated my imposter syndrome,” said Baldwin.

Individuals who experience imposter syndrome tend to doubt their skills, abilities and accomplishments. As a result, it can be difficult for them to internalize their accomplishments and recognize their own successes.

Hieser encourages all undergraduate and graduate students interested in the biomedical sciences to attend ABRCMS in the years to come.

“In addition to the excellent professional development sessions, graduate school preparation support, and research presentations, the networking opportunities are absolutely incredible. Each year, hundreds of the top graduate programs in the biomedical sciences participate in the exhibit fair. Whether students are looking for summer research programs, graduate programs, postdoctoral experiences, or simply to meet with scientists or other students within the biomedical sciences, there are ample opportunities to make connections,” said Hieser.

Having been involved in ABRCMS for years, Baldwin feels honored to continue participating as a recruiter, using the knowledge he’s acquired, “to be the person that he needed in the past.”

“I recommend this conference to undergraduate and graduate students alike,” said Baldwin. “Conferences, such as ABRCMS, that have a focus on promoting diversity are always an amazing opportunity to network and meet new people that could potentially assist you in your journey.”

The views expressed in this content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.

Madison Pershing

Madison Pershing is a Marketing and Communications Assistant for Indiana University School of Medicine’s Faculty Affairs, Professional Development, and Diversity.