For 20 years, ABRCMS has been the go-to conference for underrepresented community college, undergraduate and postbaccalaureate students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. This year, the conference welcomed over 3,000 scientists from all over the world and backgrounds, many of them considering graduate schools and Ph.D. programs in the United States, and coming to meet faculty and recruiters. The opening conference keynote speaker was Carolyn R. Bertozzi who was awarded the 2022 Nobel Prize of Chemistry.
Dr. Cristina Mitrea and Mahnoor Gondal, a DCMB second-year Ph.D. student, represented DCMB at the PIBS booth, joining five other University of Michigan booths (MSTP (M.D/Ph.D.)/Chemistry Ph.D., Dentistry, Biomedical Engineering, Pharmacy/Chemical Bio and Rackham). “U-M strong presence was quite noticeable and there was high interest in DCMB, specifically the dual degree program,” said Dr. Mitrea. “Many students were taking brochures and reading the information that was displayed, and there were at times six people asking questions at the same time at the PIBS booth.”
ABRCMS brought many fields of science together which highlighted the importance of interdisciplinary collaborations. The number of concurrent sessions was really high, covering a wide range of topics, from science to holistic approaches to patients’ needs, and health disparity. There were many sessions on career building, professional development and mentoring. The conference also had poster sessions. “The nature of the conference is to be very diverse so there was always something of interest going on, and the faculty were very enthusiastic about science,” said Gondal.
Prospective students were very interested in the translational aspect of DCMB’s research and the partnerships between physicians and biostatisticians. “Our work is about testing hypotheses that help bring therapeutics to the clinics faster,” said Mitrea. “Students like to explore and bioinformatics is all about that,” said Mitrea. “We expect many applicants from this conference.”
If scientific excellence and world-class education are important factors in choosing a college, social life and environment can be decisive points. For example, most prospective students asked about social and support groups, accommodations for prayer and meditation as well as whether various religious diets were offered around campus. They also asked about how accepting people are of other religions at the University of Michigan.
In addition to offering many networking opportunities in a friendly open-minded atmosphere, the conference was organized to provide crucial administrative information for foreign students who want to study in the United States, such as visa requirements and curriculum expectations. "It is very important to help students with navigating the system,” said Dr. Mitrea.
Mitrea also volunteered to be a judge for the poster session where she met undergraduate and graduate students would presented excellent work, from Sherlock Holmes-like investigation to see if a forensic tools for DNA identification is biased against specific populations or figuring out mathematical models for disease spread, like rare infectious diseases, or identifying pathologic mechanisms in ovarian cancer.
Mitrea and Gondal came back very energized by this experience. They strongly encourage all students to attend this conference and hope that DMCB will send a student to the conference every year.
In keeping with ABRCMS’s mission, many scholarships and grants are available to attend the annual conference.