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Diversity within the science community is essential to solving the world’s scientific problems. Different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives help to maximize innovation and fill gaps in science that benefit our society. 

Image: Flooded Highway
Flooded highway in North Dakota on June 26, 2011

The 2021 Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) National Diversity in STEM Digital Conference will take place from October 25-29, 2021. This event is the largest and most diverse gathering in the United States for underrepresented minority STEM students and professionals. This year in particular, they are expecting around 5,000 attendees. The entire conference will be virtual to protect the health and safety of everyone attending. 

Nighttime image of lava flowing into a lava lake
 Kīlauea summit eruption on October 12, 2021

To kickoff the conference, United States Secretary of the Interior, Deb Haaland, will give the opening remarks. To follow, attendees will be immersed in STEM research, professional development sessions, and multicultural celebrations and traditions. Multiple USGS scientists will be participating in this exciting event. 

1975 earthquake in HVNP
1975 earthquake in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Ben Gutierrez, a Geologist at the USGS Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center (WHCMSC), is organizing and serving as a moderator for one of the professional development sessions, titled “Flooding, Lava, Shaking, and Landslides: Working to Understand When and How to Get Out of Harm’s Way.” Panelists for the session include Alfredo Aretxabaleta (USGS WHCMSC), Natalia Deligne (USGS Hawaii Volcano Observatory), Jim Kauahikaua (USGS Hawaii Volcano Observatory), Raquel Lugo Bendezú (University of Puerto Rico), and Gari Mayberry (USGS Alaska Region and USAID Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance). During this session, the panelists will discuss their work, which focuses on several aspects related to natural hazards, and what they do to increase awareness and understanding on how society can be prepared to cope with these phenomena.

The session titled, “What do Scientists Really do? A Glimpse into the Daily Lives and Career Arcs of Five Remarkable Women,” will bring together a veterinarian working in wildlife disease, M. Camille Hopkins (USGS Office of Ecosystems), a geochemist studying coastal wetlands, Meagan Eagle (USGS WHCMSC), a biologist with an MBA working in biosecurity, Guelaguetza Vazquez-Meves (USGS Ecosystems Mission Area), and an engineer who studies the geochemistry of energy fuels and their byproducts, Tanya Gallegos (USGS Geology, Energy & Minerals Science Center). Each has taken a unique journey to get where she is today, and will share that journey and interesting points along the way.  

Overall, the SACNAS National Diversity in STEM Conference will be a valuable five day event filled with opportunities for professional development, networking, and mentorship, as well as interesting presentations and multicultural activities. Our USGS participants are excited to be involved.

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