Undergraduate research is a key component of experiential STEM education. The most substantial research experiences culminate in communication of results to the larger scientific and public communities. The timing and intimidating scale of large scientific conferences, however, often hinder full undergraduate participation. We propose a new conference that will enable undergraduates to present their work in a welcoming inclusive setting, while maintaining the resources for networking, mentorship, and career development found at larger conferences. Numerous colleges in our region are committed to undergraduate research, and often integrate research as a required component of their STEM curricula. Several conferences during Spring semester are appropriate for undergraduates to fully participate, including the regional zebrafish and C. elegans community meetings. Despite research being a year-round activity, there are no undergraduate-friendly conferences in our region during the Fall semester. To fill this need, we launched DBNY (Developmental Biology New York) in 2019, and had more than 100 attendees from 20 institutions. Our focus on Developmental Biology (broadly defined as ?the biology of change?) allowed us to attract a diverse pool of participants, while keeping the conference thematically focused and at a size to maximize undergraduate participation. DBNY also offers several features designed to enhance the training of the next generation of scientists. First, DBNY is cost-free, eliminating one of the key barriers that prevent students from attending conferences. Second, DBNY has a strong focus on career preparation in STEM. Accordingly, one of the best-reviewed aspects of our 2019 conference was our career panel, in which recent graduates from our region discussed the trajectories of their diverse careers. We will feature the career panel in future conferences and will add additional formalized mentoring activities. Third, DBNY has a strong focus on accessible networking opportunities. Our keynote speaker is a current graduate student, which allows undergraduate students a role model for their near future. The poster and talk judges are drawn from faculty with strong interests and experiences in undergraduate education. Moreover, we enlist logistical help from numerous local graduate students, and encourage these graduate students to engage the undergraduates by asking questions during their talks and poster presentations. Finally, one of our guiding principles in creating this conference is to enhance diversity and inclusion in STEM education; accordingly, our keynote speaker and most of our career panel in 2019 were from underrepresented groups in STEM, and we will continue this practice in future conferences.

Public Health Relevance

With a commitment to diversity, inclusion, and equity, we propose a new one-day conference, Developmental Biology New York (DBNY). DBNY is a welcoming and encouraging setting for undergraduates to present their research, while having access to the networking opportunities and resources for career advancement present at larger conferences.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Conference (R13)
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National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Initial Review Group (CHHD)
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Henken, Deborah B
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Ithaca College
United States
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