Faculty and Students: Apply for an ABRCMS Travel Award and Join the Community!
The ABRCMS conference for underrepresented minority students in STEM offers travel award opportunities for students who wish to present at the conference but don't have the funds to attend, as well as for faculty who are interested in judging student presentations. Adolfo Coyotl is a 2016 ABRCMS Travel Award recipient who graduated in May 2017 from a new environmental science program at Queensborough Community College and is about to begin his junior year at Queens College. He got hooked on microbiology through his mentor, Dr. Joan Petersen. Adolfo worked on assessing the impacts of pollution on the development of antibiotic resistance in soil bacteria. Initially his main concentration was in environmental science and not necessarily microbiology, but by the end of his introductory microbiology class he loved the discipline. “It was really interesting to extract these organisms that we don’t see in the soil and magnify them, manipulate them, and work with them,” he notes.
At ABRCMS, students have the opportunity to share their research through poster and oral presentations. Two programs at Queensborough helped provide Adolfo with research funding, and one of the programs’ requirements was that he present his research at a conference. Students from his school have been presenting at ABRCMS for years, so this conference was a natural fit for him. He applied for and received an ABRCMS Student Travel Award for the 2016 conference. His experience at other conferences he had attended in the past helped him hone his presentation skills, which paid off when he received an ABRCMS presentation award for his microbiology poster.
At ABRCMS, Adolfo realized that “the kinds of things you can do are really limitless. There were so many different kinds of projects. The speakers all had very unique and interesting perspectives on their own research, and that’s great for opening your mind to the possibilities.” He also found a community of people who were curious about science. When he went back to his hotel after a day at the conference, “it felt like I was on a campus. The people around us were all scientists and we would come back and talk about what was most exciting, what interested us or surprised us. It was really great.”
When he finishes his formal education, Adolfo hopes to either become a conservationist working for an organization like the Natural Areas Conservancy in New York City or a research scientist studying environmental science and the urban microbiome in particular. His experiences presenting his research at ABRCMS and elsewhere have made him excited about outreach, an aspect that he’d like to weave into his future career.