Creating experiences for underrepresented undergraduates in STEM fields where they can present their own research and experience a professional setting is important for developing their sense of self, and ability to persevere in a research career. Sharing one's research is an important step in that process. The proposed ADAR Summit meeting provides the financial support to make this happen for trainees in the MSTEM Advancing Diversity in Aging Research program. The proposed series of conferences will meet annually for five years, coinciding with the annual meeting of the Gerontological Society of America (GSA). There are 9 such programs currently. Each one has a different emphasis in the field of aging: biology, psychology, demography and more. As part of the ADAR program, students engage in mentored research projects in the field of aging. These projects will be presented at the conference either as presentations in the ADAR Summit meeting, or as part of a poster session within the broader GSA conference setting. The GSA will facilitate an integration of the ADAR Summit into the program. In each year in the ADAR Summit, there will be student presentations, presentations from established URM and other scholars, opportunities to speak with representatives from possible graduate schools, and networking time with the trainees from other institutions. The program will have different kinds of activities in order to fully engage the undergraduate students, including visiting the poster sessions in the GSA, attending sessions relevant to their field, and the book exhibits. In addition, the MSTEM ADAR program requires PIs to meet annually to discuss best practices, share advice and other experiences. The PIs will have time to meet for this purpose. As such, the primary goal of this conference series is to help solidify the self-image of trainees as STEM researchers in aging through positive reinforcement. The ADAR Summit is an important strategy for retention in budding research careers. Ultimately the goal is to have a research community of scientists that is representative of the overall United States population, in order to more accurately address health issues of the 21st century and beyond.
This proposed conference series will provide a venue for underrepresented minorities in STEM research in the field of aging. Trainees will have the opportunity to present their research, experience a conference setting, network with other trainees, faculty and established researchers, thereby developing confidence and a sense of belonging. This kind of experience is important for retention of URM students in STEM, ultimately leading to their ability to contribute to the health and well-being of individuals across the life course.