October 2018


Diversity in Medicine: Minority Association of Pre-Health Students (MAPS)

The Minority Association of Pre-Medical Students (MAPS) is the undergraduate chapter of the Student National Medical Association (SNMA). The mission of this organization is to support current and future underrepresented minority medical students, addressing the needs of underserved communities, and increasing the number of clinically excellent, culturally competent and socially conscious physicians. The mission of the Auburn chapter of MAPS is to create more socially and culturally competent physicians by educating undergraduate pre-health students about social justice issues that underserved communities face in healthcare. MAPS also offers mentorship, pre-health workshops, volunteer opportunities, and education about relevant healthcare topics.

In this vein, October is MAPS' "Diversity in Medicine" month. On October 18th, Dr. David Chae, Associate Professor at Auburn in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies, was invited to speak. His research focuses on the biopsychosocial epidemiology of health inequities, which is the biological, psychological and social aspects of the occurrence and distribution of health disparities. The topic he discussed with attendees was “The Importance of Diversity in Medicine”.

Dr. Chae's talk gave insight into the doctor-patient communication discrepancies focusing on the fact that many physicians have internalized, subconscious biases towards minorities. For example, he mentioned that when treating African Americans for AIDS versus White individuals, African Americans tend to be given medication later in the treatment as opposed to earlier. This trend is due to African Americans being seen by physicians as less likely to stick to their medication treatment. Furthermore, Dr. Chae mentioned that stress has an effect on chromosomes. Specifically, chronic stress shortens chromosomal telomeres, which results in the shortening of these individuals' "biological clock." Finally, Dr. Chae spoke about race being a social construct rather than a biological one, or in other words, there is nothing genetically written that identifies us by race. He also shared opportunities for students to get involved with the Center for Health Ecology and Equity Research (CHEER), which focuses on enhancing human health through addressing inequalities. To learn more please visit:


STEM High School Visitation Day

On Monday, October 29th, Auburn will host a preview day for high school Juniors and Seniors who are traditionally underrepresented in the STEM fields. Sponsored by the College of Sciences and Mathematics and the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, the event will include information sessions with representatives from campus organizations such as Financial Services, Housing and Residence Life, ROTC, Auburn Career Center and Learning Communities. Furthermore, a panel discussion will be led by current Auburn students that will focus on topics such as what it takes to be successful in college, campus life, being a part of the Auburn family and more. Lunch will be provided, and the day will conclude with a walking tour of campus to explore the beautiful grounds of Auburn University. According to Dr. Vincent Ortiz of the Auburn Chemistry Department, increasing the visibility of traditionally underrepresented individuals who currently hold positions in STEM to young people and getting these young people involved provides encouragement to pursue careers in STEM. This encouragement and exposure is the goal of the STEM High School Visitation Day, and the agenda can be found here!


The Hunting Ground: Film Shown by COSAM OIED Ambassadors and ItsOnUs

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and COSAM OIED Ambassadors is partnering with ItsOnUs to further awareness on this important subject. ItsOnUs is a national campaign to end sexual assault on college campuses, which was launched by President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden in 2014. Their mission is to create an environment in which survivors feel safe and comfortable to speak out and seek treatment, in addition to teaching bystander intervention. The Auburn chapter's main goal for the year is to work with men and educate them on what consent is and how to look out for women in the Auburn community. Specifically, this awareness campaign is designed to bring attention to both healthy and unhealthy relationships, focusing on different aspects of violence, such as domestic and sexual violence.

On October 18th, they screened The Hunting Ground, which is a film that depicts how college campuses deal with sexual assault reports. The lack of support, lack of belief, and lack of the justice system is highlighted, which works to educate students, professors, faculty, and administrators to be more aware of how prevalent this issue is and how much it is hidden on college campuses.

The film asserts that sexual violence is a huge issue and rape culture is evident nearly everywhere. Working together is the only way to solve this issue by holding friends accountable, talking about it, and supporting survivors, and these lessons can be applied at every campus.

Instagram: @itsonus_auburn

Official website:


A.S.K. For Your Life Event

A.S.K. For Your Life is a workshop that was built to empower low-socioeconomic status individuals and racial minorities to advocate for themselves in their healthcare. The program outlines three vital behaviors that patients should engage in to help them understand what services they are receiving and what they may be suffering from, ensure that their needs are being taken care of and what the steps are in facilitating their healing. Specifically, these steps are: Ask questions until you understand the answers; Speak up if something is not right; and Know your body, your conditions, your medications and your test results. 

Dr. Leslie Farrington, who is a retired OB-GYN from New York and now works as a healthcare activist, will be speaking at Auburn University on November 29th. In her discussion, she will focus on healthcare disparities and racial biases in healthcare. Here is the flyer, and contact Alexis Stokes at for more information if you are interested!


Dr. William Jackson: Visit and Symposium Hosted by Chemistry Department

Dr. William Jackson is a Professor Emeritus of UC Davis and renowned Chemistry researcher. Born in Birmingham, AL in 1936, he attended Morehouse College and the Catholic University of America before working for NASA in the 60's and 70's. Furthermore, he is one of the founders of NOBCChE, which is an organization that focuses on diverse inclusion in the STEM fields, and continues to do work today.

He visited Auburn University on September 24th and 25th, met with professors and graduate students and also gave a symposium titled, "Taking Pictures While Hiking Through 2-D and 3-D Potential Surfaces of Diatomic and Triatomic Molecules." This talk focused on measurements he's made regarding chemical processes that occur in comets and in the interstellar medium.

COSAM OIED also had an opportunity to conduct an interview with him, which was the focus of STEM Done Differently's first article. You can find the article posted here!


Boys and Girls Club: Auburn University STEM Visit

The Stem Coalition of United Learners (SCUL) hosted students from the Boys and Girls Club to visit Auburn University on October 19th. While on campus, the students took part in a scavenger hunt to gain a better understanding of what it takes to be admitted to college and explore Auburn's campus, leading them to places such as the College of Engineering and Cam Newton football statue. The students also toured the Allison Physics Laboratory where they met with Dr. Edward Thomas, a Charles W. Barkley Endowed Professor and Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies, whose research is in Experimental Plasma Physics. Dr. Thomas provided the students a first-hand look at Auburn's experimental plasma designs and a Magnetized Dusty Plasma Experiment. Following this, current Auburn students led a panel discussing college life, ranging from living on campus to scholarship opportunities. Finally, the Boys and Girls club finished their visit in the Langdon Annex, performing Geoscience experiments with Dr. Marilyn Vogel.


Upcoming Events


October 29

STEM High School Visitation Day: College of Sciences and Mathematics and Samuel Ginn College of Engineering

See above

October 31

Study Abroad Fair, Le Tour du Monde

November 1

Free and Public Seminar: Bernhard Riegl, Professor of Oeanography at Nova Southeastern University. "Understanding population persistence or extinction in sessile marine invertebrates using size/stage-based demography."

November 7

Hot Chocolate Talk with Dr. Rita Graze, hosted by OIED Ambassadors

Contact Johnathan Grimes for more information:

November 8

Volunteering at East Side Elementary School: STEM Coalition of United Learners (SCUL)

Contact Johnathan Grimes for more information:

Free and Public Seminar: Stacey Smith, Associate Professor in the department of Ecology and Evolution Biology at the University of Colorado. "Macroevolution of flower color: from pigments to pollinators."

November 15

Margie Oleksiak, Associate Professor in the department of Marine and Atmospheric Science at the University of Miami. "Adaptation: from among to within population."

November 29

A.S.K. For Your Life

See above or contact Alexis Stokes at for more information




Contributors: Alexis Stokes, Johnathan Grimes, Isabella Lopez, Cristina Rael and Matt Gonzales

Editors: Matt Gonzales and Dr. Kimberly Mulligan