A Full-Circle STEM Event

How the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minoritized Scientists is designed to further attendees’ academic and career pursuits — from the exhibit hall to a standout closing session featuring event alumni.

Author: Casey Gale       

crowded show floor

Former undergraduate participants of the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minoritized Scientists who now are in leadership positions return to be speakers at the event, which drew more than 5,000 attendees in 2023.

The Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minoritized Scientists (ABRCMS) attracted more than 5,500 attendees during the four-day hybrid event in November 2023 — most of whom were STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) community college and university students from undergraduate to doctorate levels, in addition to researchers, program directors, and administrators. As a student-focused event, ABRCMS — launched by the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) more than two decades ago and made possible by a grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences for the National Institutes of Health — bakes several elements into the program to help students continue to pursue their educations and careers in STEM.

The conference’s “exhibit hall” is one example. “The exhibitors at a conference like ASAE are very different from what we have at our conference,” Irene V. Hulede, director of education for ASM, told Convene. ABRCMS’ exhibitors are made up entirely of recruiters for graduate programs. At the 2023 event, there were approximately 1,000 representatives from different universities in 500 booths on the show floor.

RELATED: Scientific Discovery and Diversity at ABRCMS

“That has been a really strong entity for the conference,” Hulede said, because it meets the event’s goal of encouraging students to further the trajectory of their STEM careers. “For a student to do well, they need to connect with these exhibitors and get into graduate school.”

The 2023 event featured 104 sessions, including six professional development workshops and 36 expert lectures and flash talks. A standout session, Hulede said, was the closing keynote panel, made up entirely of ABRCMS alumni who have gone on to have successful careers.

“Because we’ve been doing this conference for 23 years now, most of the folks who came as undergraduates are now in leadership positions,” Hulede said. “Now they come back — on stage — as keynote speakers to tell their story.”

Casey Gale is managing editor of Convene.

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