STEM Diversity Efforts That Empower Student Research

Black woman working in a chemistry lab on campus

Participating in research as an undergraduate student has been found to have positive impact on students’ education experience. That is because skills and knowledge acquired help them to be prepared to thrive beyond the classroom. UWM offers many opportunities for student research. Meet three individuals who benefitted from being involved in both the McNair Scholars and WiscAMP STEM-Inspire Programs.

Stephanie Fones, a senior majoring in Geosciences, presented their WiscAMP STEM-Inspire program research work at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in April 2023. During summer 2023, Stephanie was accepted to the UW-Milwaukee Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program, where they were funded to perform a summer research project at Michigan Tech with geoscientist, Dr. Erika Vye. Stephanie was accompanied by their research mentor, Scott Schaefer. Stephanie is a member of the Ojibwe tribal nation with plans to enroll in graduate school in Geosciences in Fall 2024.  

Jorge Acosta, a senior majoring in Geosciences, enrolled in a four-week summer 2023 field course in Hilo, Hawaii, sponsored by the South Dakota Mines University and funded by the WiscAMP STEM-Inspire program. This field course followed another immersive experience Jorge had with his WiscAMP research mentor, Dr. Lindsay McHenry, when he traveled to Hawaii the year before to collect lava tubes. Regarding his experience in the camp, Jorge wrote, 

Attending this course demonstrated to myself that I am more than capable of doing the scientific work, something I began to question myself the semester prior. Being able to adapt and overcome challenges proved to me that all the noise of “maybe I’m not good enough”, “Am I going down the right path?”, was just that, noise.

As a first-generation Mexican American student enrolled in WiscAMP and the Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Programs, Jorge is planning to attend graduate school with a focus on planetary geology.

Isaac Ngui is a Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program and WiscAMP STEM-Inspire Program alum. He graduaged in Spring 2020 with a major in Computer Engineering. Isaac presented his research project at the Spring 2020 UWM Undergraduate Research Symposium, sponsored by the Office on Undergraduate Research. Working alongside his faculty mentor, Dr. Mohammad Rahman, Isaac researched how to coordinate the actions of robots with mechanical arms capable of carrying objects. Isaac is pursuing a PhD in Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. As a second-generation Black graduate student, Isaac is well positioned to succeed in his intended field. 

(UWM Photo/Mikaila Dusenberry)