2018 Highlights


STEM Done Differently is a two-fold platform on which the College of Sciences and Mathematics Office of Inclusion, Equity and Diversity (COSAM OIED) at Auburn University highlights the diversity of people, disciplines, and career pathways within STEM fields. The first of these platforms is a monthly interview series, where we explore the career paths of interesting individuals who have established themselves within STEM. The second platform is a monthly newsletter that keeps current and prospective students, alumni, parents, and the community at large updated on upcoming events and other important information related to COSAM and the OIED. So, come check us out and see how STEM is Done Differently!


STEM High School Visitation Day

On Monday, October 29th, Auburn hosted 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 consisted of 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 was led by current Auburn students that focused on topics such as what it takes to be successful in college, campus life, being a part of the Auburn family and more. Lunch was provided, and the day concluded 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, which was the primary goal of this event.


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 National Organization for Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE), which is an organization that focuses on diverse inclusion in the STEM fields, and continues to do work today. In this vein, he visited Auburn University on September 24th and 25th, where he 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.


A.S.K. For Your Life: Dr. Leslie Farrington

Dr. Leslie Farrington, who is a retired OB-GYN from New York and now works as a healthcare activist, spoke at Auburn University on November 29th. In her discussion, she focused on healthcare disparities and racial biases in healthcare and gave a demonstration on what A.S.K For Your Life, a public health campaign in which she is a leader, looks like in practice.

Specifically, 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. Farrington will be the focus of STEM Done Differently’s third article.


Hot Chocolate Talk with Dr. Rita Graze: OIED Ambassadors

On November 7, the OIED Student Ambassadors hosted a talk to learn and foster fellowship through sharing a cup of hot chocolate. Dr. Rita Graze, whose research focuses on functional genomics, quantitative genetics and evolutionary questions, gave a speech titled, “Expanding the Reach of Research.” The talk was an open space for students to discuss diversity-related concerns and questions within the context of conducting research. A few highlights of the discussion include how students often go into research believing they know what to expect, but there was a focus placed on what it really looks like in practice and an outline of the ways to get and stay involved with the research process.


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 the Auburn chapter of MAPS is to support current and future medical students from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds who are culturally competent physicians. MAPS goal is to create and socially conscious physicians who are able to address the needs of underserved communities. 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,” which highlighted research on the doctor-patient communication discrepancies due to the fact that many physicians have internalized, subconscious biases towards minorities. This bias has been shown to lead to many harmful outcomes, such as later prescription of AIDS medication to Black patients in comparison to White patients. Furthermore, he discussed the effect of stress on people’s “biological clock,” and how race is a social construct rather than a biological one in that there is nothing genetically written to delineate people based upon their race. To learn more please visit:


East Side Elementary Volunteer Day: STEM Coalition of United Learners (SCUL)

The STEM Coalition of United Learners (SCUL) hosted a Student-Parent STEM Night event at Eastside Elementary with the intent to increase traditionally underrepresented students' awareness of and interest in STEM. Being that early exposure to STEM tends to increase levels of interest and lead to eventual recruitment, the event was open to all K-12 students and showcased a multitude of different experiments such as “Screaming Dry Ice” and “Slimy Creations." In addition, the students were given the opportunity to learn about what college life is like, as SCUL believes it is never too early to start thinking about your future.



Contributors: Alexis Stokes, Johnathan Grimes and Matt Gonzales

Editors: Matt Gonzales and Dr. Kimberly Mulligan