Review of 2012 SACNAS National Meeting in Seattle

20 Oct

Moi received an invitation to apply for press credentials to the 2012 SACNAS National Meeting in Seattle and she applied. She knew nothing about the organization and as far as she was concerned as long as she could end the experience without saying “well that’s ___ hours that I will never get back,” the experience would be a success. The experience turned out to be enlightening and uplifting as well. This is an organization founded on the premise that there is much that we can do and we will focus on that.

This is how SACNAS describes itself:

Our History

The Creation Story

Legend says that SACNAS was founded in an elevator at an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) meeting in the early ’70s. At that time, there were only a handful of Native American and Chicano scientists in the U.S., and most of them had converged to attend the AAAS meeting. After attending a networking event, they all got into the elevator together. One looked around and joked, “If this elevator crashes, it will wipe out the entire population of Chicano and Native American scientists!” Since 1973, our SACNAS family has grown from the number of people who can fit into an elevator to over 25,000 SACNISTAs (members, partners, and friends).

SACNAS Founders

Nearly 40 years ago, the founders of SACNAS were trailblazers. Many of them were the first people in their communities to receive PhDs in science, the first Hispanics/Chicanos and Native Americans to be hired in their departments, and the first mentors for a new generation of Hispanic/Chicano and Native American scientists. Over the years, SACNAS and its founders have flourished. Founders are now leaders at federal scientific agencies, tenured full professors, and university deans. Along with early conference attendees, former presidents, and past board members, a significant number of founding members are actively involved in the work of SACNAS today.

Historical Context

SACNAS emerged alongside the Chicano and American Indian movements. At that time, advanced science degrees were few and far between. Over 15,000 PhDs in science and engineering were granted in 1975, but only 151 were granted to Hispanics and 13 to Native Americans. Early initiatives included nationwide networking, securing funding, and organizing the first SACNAS conference in 1978.

Awards and Recognitions

SACNAS was recognized as the nation’s premier minority science organization when it was awarded the 2002 National Science Board’s Public Service Award for our contribution to the scientific community. In 2004, the organization also received the national Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM) for our mentoring work and ability to effectively increase underrepresented minority participation at all levels in science, math, and engineering.

This is how SACNAS described the National Conference in Seattle:

National Conference

“If I were to describe the conference in one word, I would have to say it would be OPPORTUNITY.”
 – Edwina Gutierrez, Undergraduate Student, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology

SACNAS National Conference

As one of the largest annual gatherings of minority scientists in the country, the interdisciplinary, inclusive, and interactive SACNAS National Conference motivates and inspires. Registration includes:

Showcasing cutting-edge science by the nation’s leading minority scientists and offering a supportive community is what makes the annual meeting a transformative event for all participants. Join us to connect with professionals and students in all disciplines of science, technology, mathematics, and engineering from across the country.

Upcoming National Conferences

Our annual conference takes place every fall. Upcoming conferences are scheduled for:

Previous National Conferences

First, the conference was very well organized and this was no little achievement as there were about 3700 attendees. The program was clearly delineated and the attendees often had to make some tough choices about which sessions to attend. There were incredible speakers giving keynote talks at all the meals. Even though SACNAS focuses on Chicano, Latino, Hispanic, and Native communities, moi noticed that the conference was a rainbow and that those “serious” about business, career, and science were there. This is definitely a group focused not only on individual achievement and success, but a group asking what can “I” do to help my fellow traveler on life’s roadl. Moi attended a great presentation about Entrepreneurship which do not gloss over the challenges, but offered support and encouragement for those willing to follow that path. Among the other great sessions attended by moi were “Institutionalizing Diversity Programs: Challenges and Opportunities for Colleges and Universities,” and the Native Community Reception.

As an example of how giving the stars of this community are with their time, Moi was able to discuss the importance of diversity and the case currently before the U.S. Supreme Court with:

Lee Bitsoi, (Navajo) EdD SACNAS Secretary, Bioethics at Harvard

SACNAS Board Members:

Luis Echegoyen, (Cuban) PhD        Chemistry, University of Texas at ElPaso

Juan Meza, PhD                            Dean of Natural Sciences,

                                                    Professor of Applied Math, UC at Merced

Gabriel Montano,PhD                     Nanotechnology/Membrane Biochemistry

                                                    Los Alamos National Laboratory

Not only do these gentlemen do research and attend conferences in addition to teaching and other activities, they see their roles as MENTORS to those who will attempt to fill their shoes.

What moi observed is SACNAS is an organization focused on excellence and success. There is a “can do” ethos and ethic about the organization. Moi’s observation is that many of those, with whom she spoke, attend the conference year after year. They see the meeting as a time to reflect, replenish, and renew. Both undergraduates and graduate students who are “serious” about their career and their future are encouraged to join SACNAS and attend the 2013 National Meeting in San Antonio.

Dr. Wilda gives a thumbs up to the 2012 SACNAS National Meeting in Seattle. This is a highly recommend.

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One Response to “Review of 2012 SACNAS National Meeting in Seattle”


  1. SACNAS scientists argue the superiority of diversity when discussing Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin (Case No. 11-345) « drwilda - November 4, 2012

    […] Not only do these gentlemen do research and attend conferences in addition to teaching and other activities, they see their roles as MENTORS to those who will attempt to fill their shoes. See, Review of 2012 SACNAS National Meeting in Seattle […]

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