On May 22-24, 2005, Montana State University’s Women in Science and Engineering (WISE!) group hosted a statewide Networking Symposium for Undergraduate Researchers and Mentors. Approximately 75 attendees – undergraduate students involved in research and their faculty mentors – descended on the campus from all over Montana. Represented campuses included MSU Northern, UM-Western, Montana Tech, the Montana Tribal Colleges, and private institutions such as University of Great Falls. The symposium offered a number of activities to provide positive role models and support to students considering research careers.
WISE! organizers Mary Lukin, Anne Rusoff and Anneke Metz worked especially hard to reach out to women and minority students, who often have few role models, struggle with confidence, and face societal stereotypes when pursuing science and engineering careers. Symposium attendees participated in breakout sessions on balancing career and family, success in graduate school, and positive mentoring. The event also featured undergraduates sharing their research experiences with other students and faculty. Experienced student researchers presented award-winning posters at the poster session, which also featured a poster-making workshop for students new to research.
A highlight of the symposium was the keynote address by US Geological Survey field geologist Dr. Margaret Hiza Redsteer. Dr. Redsteer used her own personal experiences as a young mother in graduate school, and her role as a female scientist studying climate change on the Navajo nation, to provide students and faculty alike with inspiring words of wisdom and encouragement for a rewarding life and career. MSU President Dr. Geoffrey Gamble was in attendance, viewing student posters and reaffirming his strong support for equity in school and in the workplace. Communal meals held in the MSU ballrooms during the event allowed everyone to get to know each other, make lasting friendships and forge new research connections.
Television coverage of the event was provided by local NBC affiliate KTVM Channel 6 & 42. This symposium was sponsored by WISE!, Montana EPSCoR, and NCRR Lariat.
Images (provided by A. Metz)
(top right) MSU Electrical Engineering and Sociology graduate Erin Cech presents her poster before starting graduate school on the East Coast this fall.
(above left) Dr. Margaret Hiza Redsteer delivers the keynote address
(right) MSU President Dr. Geoffrey Gamble shares his passion for supporting women and underrepresented groups in science and engineering