(Oct. 1, 2013) -- The University of Texas at San Antonio and the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) are partnering to host the organization's 2013 national conference, expected to attract nearly 4,000 participants and generate an economic impact of nearly $4 million. UTSA signed on as the first sponsor for the SACNAS conference to be in San Antonio Oct. 3-6 at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center.
This year's theme, "Strengthening the Nation through Diversity, Innovation and Leadership in STEM," commemorates 40 years of dedicated service by the organization. SACNAS fosters the success of Hispanic/Chicano and Native American scientists. Programming is tailored to support undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral researchers and career professionals at each transition stage of their careers as they move toward positions of leadership in science. It will offer scientific symposia, professional development and leadership development sessions, keynote speakers, and poster and oral presentations.
"The conference will really help address a big issue in our community -- to have a broader array of educational opportunities in the technical fields," said George Perry, dean of the UTSA College of Sciences. "Most of the high-paying jobs of the future are going to have a technical foundation in either science, engineering or related fields. One of the critical issues for this development in San Antonio is to not be a low labor point, but a destination for a labor force that has broad skills in a variety of different areas."
UTSA and SACNAS have enjoyed a long relationship with a number of College of Sciences faculty members holding prominent positions in the organization as past presidents or board members. In 2012, UTSA Department of Physics and Astronomy Chair Miguel Yacaman received the SACNAS Distinguished Scientist Award. In 2011, Andrew Tsin, UTSA biochemistry professor and former SACNAS board member, received the White House Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring. Last year, a SACNAS student chapter opened on the UTSA Main Campus, adding to the list of more than 50 student chapters across the country.
As the host sponsor, UTSA President Ricardo Romo will introduce San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro to officially welcome the participants to San Antonio to kick off the four-day conference. UTSA College of Sciences alumnus Rodolfo Jimenez will serve as a keynote panelist for the session "Pathways to Success: Real-Life Adventures of SACNAS Scientists." Additionally, the UTSA Main Campus will play host to 165 SACNAS student participants touring some of the university's science and engineering laboratories.
"This year's conference is especially exciting because we are honoring our founders, many of whom are still with us and very active in SACNAS, for their hard work and vision in creating, sustaining and growing the organization for four decades," said SACNAS President Maggie Werner-Washburne, professor of biology at the University of New Mexico. "They are truly role models for us all. Having the founders and the students together allows us to be mindful of our past as we plan for the future."
With more than 6,900 paid members serving a community of more than 23,000 at more than 1,000 institutions nationwide, SACNAS seeks to increase the number of Hispanics/Chicanos and Native Americans with advanced degrees in science and motivate them to be leaders in their scientific disciplines. SACNAS goals include increasing the number of Hispanics/Chicanos and Native Americans in scientific research, leadership and teaching careers and increasing governmental commitment to advancing Hispanics/Chicanos and Native Americans in science, resulting in increased resources, elimination of barriers, and greater equity.
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