Advocacy spotlight: Alanna Condren, doctoral candidate and science advocate
This week we are highlighting the STEM Opportunities Act, or H.R. 2528, for the ASBMB’s spring advocacy campaign.
First introduced in 2017 under the same name, the STEM Opportunities Act, sponsored by Eddie Johnson, D-Texas, directs federal agencies and academic institutions that conduct and support scientific research to develop strategies to better involve the nation’s full talent pool and increase the retention of underrepresented groups and women.
ASBMB’s policy analyst, André Porter, talked to Alanna Condren about her perspectives on broadening participation in STEM and some of the activities that she is leading to make an impact.Alanna Condren
Condren, a doctoral candidate at the University of Illinois at Chicago, studies medicinal chemistry and pharmacology. She is also co-director for Expanding Your Horizons Chicago, a national organization that holds workshops to encourage girls in grades 6 through 8 to pursue careers in STEM.
Earlier this year, Condren traveled to Washington, D.C., to participate in ASBMB’s annual Capitol Hill Day. While there, she talked to lawmakers and their staffs about the research that she and her colleagues are working on and about her experiences as a Latina in science.
What role do you think individuals have in broadening participation in STEM?
It is crucial that everyone, no matter your profession, continues to support and advocate for programs that encourage, recruit, and, most importantly, retain underrepresented minority students pursuing careers in STEM. This is a job for every single person in our country — not just government officials. We must make our voices heard and take action in our local communities to support the next generation of scientists, which will be even more colorful, open-minded and brilliant because of the efforts we put in now to support them. Our scientific innovation is only as rigorous as the diverse minds behind the discovery.
What are some of the activities that EYH Chicago is implementing to help increase diversity and inclusion in STEM careers?
Our team works to host a symposium for 300 middle school girls to engage in exciting hands-on workshops run by Chicagoland female STEM professionals. Our vision is to provide this positive experience to the underserved communities in Chicago whose schools may not have the funds to offer this kind of hands-on experience to their students. More importantly, we directly engage these girls at a critical time in their development to nurture their foundational love for STEM and show them that, if diverse women like us can do it, so can they. As a Latin female scientist, I will never stop reaching back to mentor and pull up the younger women behind me who are passionate and compelled to dive into the exciting world of STEM.
As Condren points out, it is extremely important that we all work to guarantee that impediments to increasing diversity in STEM are addressed and programs are implemented to retain the best and brightest minds. Join the ASBMB and Condren in urging your representatives to support H.R. 2528.
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The society states that increasing student debt and financial strain are hurting the U.S. research enterprise and federal agencies must do more to ease this burden.
These funding mechanisms have been underutilized. The ASBMB public affairs staff offers recommendations to change that.