Summer and Fall 2019




This past July, the inaugural STEM Global Learning Immersion for Diverse Experiences (GLIDE) study abroad program took OIED Coordinator Julian Oliver, Assistant Dean of Inclusion, Equity and Diversity Dr. Kimberly Mulligan, and ten undergraduates to the Dominican Republic to learn about and work on improving local water quality and related issues. This 2-week study abroad program was fully-funded by COSAM OIED and was at no cost to the students. To be eligible for the program, the students were required to be in good academic standing with the University, major in a STEM discipline and had never before traveled outside of the United States.

Once there, the group visited four locations across the Dominican Republic, including Santiago, Santo Domingo, Jarabacoa and Bayahibe. In addition to working alongside locals to improve water quality, students immersed themselves into the local culture through educational and recreational activities such as visiting the Centro Leon Museum, white water rafting, snorkeling, and a mountain hike. Furthermore, said student MiKaela White, “things that I enjoyed were seeing the underground lake caves, shopping at the street vendors/markets, trying new food, and seeing all the historical places. Overall, this whole experience is something I will never forget.” 


Destination STEM

This semester, the COSAM Ambassadors, STEM Coalition of United Learners (SCUL) and Minority Association of Pre-Health Students (MAPS) staffed a table at the 2nd annual Destination STEM. Destination STEM is an interactive STEM-focused event that caters to traditionally underrepresented sixth through tenth grade students with the goal of facilitating one-on-one discussion about what STEM really is and why it is important. Furthermore, and quite importantly, it’s a great time to show the approximately 1,200 younger students in attendance that STEM can be fun! To this end, the Ambassadors, SCUL and MAPS hosted a few different activities. For example, they led a game of career bingo to show that STEM doesn’t just mean white lab coats and safety goggles but can include a wide variety of different career paths. In addition, they facilitated an activity called Microscope Adventures, where students had the opportunity to examine a moving microscopic amoeba, which can be more interesting than a static blood cell or hair follicle.

“Our mission was to expose kids to STEM,” said SCUL President Abbrianna Robert. “Many kids think that playing football or basketball is the only way to move up and be successful, but we wanted to introduce them to science by people who look like them.” Having role models to identify with is very important to building interest in the STEM fields, which is another facet of what Destination STEM aimed to do.


STEM Done Differently Symposium: Ria Persad

On September 23, Harvard, Princeton and Cambridge alum and Founder/CEO of weather prediction company StatWeather Ria Persad spoke at the inaugural STEM Done Differently Symposium with a presentation titled, “The ‘Predictable Chaos’ of Climate: From Theory to Practice.” During her presentation, she spoke on the many levels of uncertainty that is involved in climate and weather prediction. From mega-scale influencers like solar patterns to humanity’s use of aerosols, there are a multitude of factors that are measured to create the most accurate models of weather prediction. In addition, she spoke on the potential for innovation not only in this field, but many different avenues of STEM work. Ria Persad will also be the upcoming feature in the STEM Done Differently Interview Series.


STEM Summer Bridge

From June 2nd to June 29th this year, incoming first-year COSAM students participated in a program that not only helps them to prepare for the rigors of what COSAM has to offer, but also makes them eligible to receive scholarship money from OIED. This program, STEM Summer Bridge, was begun in 1994 by Dr. Overtoun Jenda, has been annually implemented for the last 25 years. It takes place at Auburn University and emphasizes academic preparedness, development, enhancement of study and time management skills and building friendships and support systems among fellow first-year COSAM students.

More specifically, students were housed on-campus, took classes in the morning, worked on professional development in the afternoons, conducted a self-directed cross-disciplinary research project and even went on group trips during the weekends such as the Legacy Museum in Montgomery. According to Alex Stanley, an incoming first-year student, “I feel more prepared and equipped than the average incoming freshman.” He also said, “I feel like I made great relationships with not only the students here, but also the faculty. It gave me some great networking opportunities to help me in the future,” emphasizing both the academic and social integration OIED strives to incorporate through the STEM Summer Bridge Program. 


STEM High School Visitation Day

Coming up on October 18, COSAM and the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering will host STEM High School Visitation Day, when Alabamian High School Juniors and Seniors, their parents and school counselors will explore what it looks like to be a STEM student at Auburn. This event was created to show traditionally underrepresented individuals that there is a place for everyone in STEM, no matter who you are or where you come from. Events included in Visitation Day include information sessions, student-led panel discussions, a campus tour and more, all to garner a holistic understanding of the STEM student experience.

Last year, over 100 High School students were in attendance, and topics covered included scholarships and other financial aid, housing opportunities and academic support resources. “These are students who may not always be the target for recruitment, or students that may not completely know what it is that they want to do,” said Dr. Kimberly Mulligan, Assistant Dean of Inclusion, Equity and Diversity. Dr. Mulligan knows there is a lot that goes into making sure a STEM student is successful, and the exposure that Visitation Day offers is a powerful first step.


Research Experience for Undergraduates

This past summer, COSAM OIED and the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering Academic Excellence Program sponsored the Auburn University Collaborative Approaches Among Scientists and Engineers Research Experience for Undergraduates (CASE REU). This program is a nine-week experience open to undergraduate students majoring in STEM disciplines including chemistry, biology, physics, and all branches of engineering. Based on their research interests, participating students were matched with a mentor to complete a research project which they presented in the closing symposium. In addition to the experience itself, participating students were provided with a $5,000 stipend, an additional $1,500 food stipend, and free housing.


COSAM Ambassadors

On August 19th, the COSAM Ambassadors hosted their Welcome Week event to help integrate the newly arrived first-year students into the Auburn family. At this event, the Ambassadors led a trivia competition, provided food and held space for students to meet and mingle to start their college journey off right.

In addition, the Ambassadors held a showing of The Pact, a film that documents the story of three physicians who made a promise to one another in high school to one day become doctors. Growing up in an environment where they were all but expected to fail, Rameck Hunt, Sampson Davis and George Jenkins followed through on their pact to get through not just college, but medical school as well, serving as role models to other kids growing up in inner-city environments. “This movie was especially exciting and super relevant,” said COSAM Ambassadors President Tajnea Foster. She was uniquely affected by The Pact, as it spoke to an experience of her own family. “My dad grew up during desegregation in the Mississippi Delta,” she said, and whereas there was not official, state-sponsored racial segregation, there were delineations drawn between students which were allegedly merit-based. Unsurprisingly for this time, the Black students tended to be placed at the lower end of the spectrum, disallowing them from participation in extra-curricular activities. However, one teacher fought hard for Black students to be allowed to join the school band. This teacher succeeded, and Tajnea’s father would later get a full-ride band scholarship to Mississippi State. “That opened up a path for me,” she said. She sees the story of The Pact as having similar impact as her own family’s story. These stories have intergenerational impact, and having leaders who are willing to be that teacher, to be those doctors, to be that person to change someone’s life… That’s important.


Minority Association of Pre-Health Students (MAPS)

This semester, MAPS hosted an information session for the University of Southern Alabama’s Diversity Recruitment and Enrichment for Admission into Medicine (DREAM) program. DREAM is an 8-week bridge program that seeks to encourage Alabama’s marginalized and traditionally underrepresented students to pursue careers in medicine, to the end of increasing the diversity of Alabamian medical students. Upon completion of the program, which focuses on MCAT preparation, students who score at least a 493 on the MCAT and meet a few other academic requirements receive automatic acceptance into the University of Southern Alabama’s Medical School. Additionally, MAPS partnered with the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM) for the VCOM Open House on Auburn’s campus to raise awareness about what Osteopathic Medicine entails and attract students to explore the program. Later this year, MAPS will host a recruiting event for St. George’s University Medical School, a University located in Grenada that offers clinical training based on US or UK standards.


STEM Coalition of United Learners (SCUL)

Earlier this year, SCUL visited Wrights Mill Road Elementary school to host a science night to reach out to younger children. At this event, SCUL helped these young students to see a fun side of STEM through entertaining activities such as making slime or learning about how dry ice works. “The kids were very receptive,” said SCUL President Abbrianna Robert, before adding that they were very happy with the amount of people that showed up, ready to learn. This science night was similar to the events SCUL hosted at East Side Elementary last semester, except for the presence of parents during the East Side event. Looking to the future, Abbrianna says that SCUL will offer tutoring through Our House, a place where local Auburn children can come to get homework help, develop adaptive study skills and utilize free resources. In addition, SCUL has led tours of the Physics department for Our House children in the past, and they plan on continuing to provide this opportunity in the future. 



Contributor: Matt Gonzales

Editors: Matt Gonzales and Dr. Kimberly Mulligan