Four undergraduate students from Arizona State University (ASU), all of Native American heritage, participated in an eight-week summer internship at Berkeley Lab as part of the ASU-Berkeley Lab STEM Pathways program. This internship experience was funded by a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation that was developed by Biosciences Area’s Trent Northen in collaboration with Alicia Chang in Berkeley Lab’s Office of the Chief Development Officer (OCDO).
The ASU program aims to enhance educational pathways for Indigenous undergraduate students in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields by providing hands-on research experience at Berkeley Lab. The first students to participate in this program were Jordan Barriga, Hózhóó Emerson, Hannah Nockideneh, and Kai-Se’ Toledo. Northen and Workforce Development and Education’s Colette Flood and Laleh Coté, all co-PIs on the grant, coordinated Berkeley Lab’s engagement in the program, which included support for research opportunities and mentorship. Berkeley Lab researchers Ahmet Kusoglu (Energy Technologies Area), Benjamin Gilbert (Earth and Environmental Sciences Area), Alexander Picksley (Physical Sciences Area), Axel Visel (Joint Genome Institute; EGSB), and Laura Cook (EGSB) mentored the student participants.
In an ASU news piece, participants expressed that their experiences at Berkeley Lab boosted their confidence and deepened their passion for science. Organizers hope that the program can be expanded to benefit more Indigenous students in the future.