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SISTEM one-on-one from Blue Bell, Pennsylvania with Ms. Talitha Hampton, National President of the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE), and with Dr. Malinda Gilmore, Board Chair of NOBCChE.

Talitha Hampton

Talitha Hampton is a program manager at AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals where she manages critical planning, business communications, project execution and strategy coordination in support of the AstraZeneca Network Strategy and Operations group. Prior to working at AstraZeneca, Talitha spent 7 years at Merck & Co., Inc in various roles ranging from process engineering to business development and operations strategy. She previously served as leader of the corporate responsibility and reputation task force for the Merck African Ancestry Business Insights Roundtable (AA BIR) and on the Steering Committee for the Alabama Partnership for Biotechnology Research (PBR). Talitha is the current president of the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE), where she is responsible for development and execution of business and operational strategy that enables NOBCChE to fulfill its mission of creating an eminent cadre of people of color in STEM. Talitha is the founder and managing partner of CareerSTEM, LLC, a specialty firm whose mission is dedicated to exposing young people to careers in STEM and helping students and early career professionals ignite their passions, develop competitive personal brands, and achieve business objectives for success in their STEM careers. Talitha earned a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Oakwood University and a master’s degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

Malinda Gilmore

 


Malinda Wilson Gilmore, Ph.D., is currently the Special Assistant to the President for Strategic Planning and Initiatives and Coordinator/Associate Professor of Chemistry at Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University in Huntsville, Alabama. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas and obtained her doctoral degree from the University of California at Davis in Agricultural and Environmental Chemistry. Dr. Gilmore completed her Postdoctoral Experience at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in the area of Environmental Health Sciences. Dr. Gilmore is an advocate for STEM Education and is fully committed to enhancing the academic skills of students from disadvantaged backgrounds and support them in successfully competing, entering and graduating in STEM programs. In addition, at AAMU she leads strategic initiatives and special projects critical to the success of the University. As Co-Principal Investigator, Dr. Gilmore has been a part of several successful grant proposals to the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, NASA, the Science and Engineering Alliance, and Title III. Dr. Gilmore has received numerous outstanding honors, including recently being honored in the AAMU’s Research Magazine as a “Rising Star”, and by the Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences as the “Most Effective Young Faculty.” Just recently, she has completed the American Council on Education (ACE) Fellows Program. Currently, she serves as the Executive Board Chair of the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE) and also as the Executive Board President of Girls, Inc. Huntsville, Alabama.


Q:  Please tell us about yourself and educational background that led you to your current career at the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE)?

Gilmore:  NOBCChE has always been a part of my life. My father, Dr. Bobby L. Wilson, Professor of Chemistry at Texas Southern University, has been a life-long member of NOBCChE. I grew up in NOBCChE. During my tenure at Texas Southern University, I was an active member of the student chapter of NOBCChE and it was through a NOBCChE Conference that I was introduced to a summer internship opportunity at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in which I participated for 4 consecutive summers under the leadership of Mrs. Ellen Hill and Mr. Tommy Smith. While at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, I was introduced to an Agricultural and Environmental Graduate Program at the University of California, Davis where one of the founding fathers of NOBCChE was a Professor of Chemistry. I pursued and earned my Ph.D. from the University of California in Agricultural and Environmental Chemistry. While attending graduate school at UC Davis, Mrs. Hill and her family decided to move to Huntsville, Alabama.  Little did I know that my steps were ordered to Alabama where upon completion of my Ph.D. I engaged in a postdoctoral opportunity at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.  Mrs. Hill became a lifelong friend, mentor and role model. When I was ready to pursue a faculty position at a Historical Black College and University, Mrs. Hill, a NOBCChE contact was instrumental in providing networking opportunities at the Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University in Huntsville, Alabama where I was invited to give a talk and apply for a faculty position. At AAMU, I was instrumental in chartering the student chapter of NOBCChE. Currently, I am an Associate Professor (tenured)/Coordinator of Chemistry at AAMU. In addition, I am currently serving as the Special Assistant to the President for Strategic Planning and Initiatives.  With respect to NOBCChE, I am the Executive Board Chair of NOBCChE. As clearly stated above, NOBCChE has truly been instrumental my overall career achievements. If it wasn’t for NOBCChE, I wouldn’t be where I am today. NOBCChE provided such a pathway and I am indeed grateful.

Hampton: I joined NOBCChE as a Chemical and Materials Engineering graduate student during a particularly difficult time during my studies, where I felt alone and discouraged. That year I attended a NOBCChE conference for the first time and it changed my entire outlook. The energy absolutely was electric. I had entered a community of people who immediately saw my potential and invested in my success. I was impressed with the number of minority professionals who converged at this one place with such an overt commitment to my dreams. Joining NOBCChE and attending my first conference was a transformational moment in my career. That year I was recruited by Merck to do a graduate internship, which launched my successful 7-year career there and facilitated my next step as a Program Manager for AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals. I will be forever grateful for that "extra-push."

I would not be where I am today if it were not for the love and support that I received from my NOBCChE family along the way. Mentorship from role-models such as Dr. Sharon Kennedy, Dr. Rebecca Tinsley, Jeanette Brown, Dr. Saundra McGuire, Perry Catchings, Dr. Bill Jackson, Dr. Sharon Haynie, Dr. Victor McCrary, Dr. Ty Mitchell and so many more played a key role in my development and serve as mentors and inspiration even today. I intend to pay their mentorship forward. Now that I am established in my career and in a leadership role as President of NOBCChE, it is my mission to help others succeed. NOBCChE is an all-volunteer organization and giving so much of my time and energy to this cause is not always easy. But every time I see a student who the organization has helped find their voice, graduate, become successful in their career, and then in-turn, mentor others, I am reminded about why I do what I do.

Q:  Tell us about NOBCChE’s mission, services, programs and chapters?

Gilmore & Hampton: The National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE) is dedicated to building an eminent cadre of people of color in science and technology.  In pursuit of this mission NOBCChE initiates and supports local, regional, national, and global programs that assist people of color in fully realizing their potential in academic, professional, and entrepreneurial pursuits in chemistry, chemical engineering, and related fields. The organization promotes careers in science and technology as an achievable goal for elementary, middle, and high school students. In addition, NOBCChE encourages college students to pursue graduate degrees in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. NOBCChE also provides professional development programs, networking and mentoring for early to mid-career professionals.  NOBCChE makes a difference!!

Q:  Can you please elaborate on the activities of the 2015 NOBCChE National STEM Weekend?

Gilmore & Hampton:

Please view the website below for more information about the activities of the 2015 NOBCChE National STEM Weekend.

http://www.nobcchestemwkd.com/

Q:   What are the critical steps policymakers should undertake to increase the number of African-Americans specifically, and also Latinos, Native Americans, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians or other Pacific Islanders, and women in Chemistry and other STEM disciplines?

Gilmore:  Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) are vital to our future, the future of our country, the future of our regions and the future of our children. STEM is everywhere and it shapes our everyday experiences. STEM education will determine whether the United States will remain a leader among nations and whether we will be able to solve immense challenges in such areas as energy, health, environmental protection, and national security.  If the United States of America truly stays focused broadening the participation of persons in STEM then we will see the generation of scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians who will create the new ideas, new products, and entirely new industries of the 21st century.

In today’s society, STEM is becoming more diverse and even internationalized. However, the shortage of African Americans and other minorities, including women, still exists. 

I would love for you to review a manuscript that I wrote entitled Improvement of STEM Education: Experiential Learning is the Key. (Please see attached manuscript)…..I think it provides the answer to this question in much more detail.

Hampton: There are several areas of focus for increasing the number of underrepresented minorities in the STEM fields. As I see it, these areas include increasing the numbers within the pipelines by removing barriers (financial, social, etc.), pushing to recruit and train target groups, bias training, promoting a progressive work environment, mentorship/sponsorship programs, and active retention of diverse candidates which includes renegotiation and accommodating the needs of all employee (especially underrepresented groups).

The following steps should be addressed to increase the number of underrepresented minorities in STEM.

1.  Provide robust funding for minority STEM initiatives

There is a wealth of information that supports providing funds for early education in STEM. Leveraging the talent and experiences of human capital is crucial to solving the grand challenges facing society. Fundamental breakthroughs in science and engineering require a broader talent pool, diverse perspectives and thinking to solve complex problems, and the energy of new people entering the field. Tutoring and college prep programs are a great way to bridge and promote the STEM fields.

2.  Actively promote and market STEM to minorities

STEM needs a better marketing team. For the few that are engaged in the STEM fields, the push to connect STEM education to the business that STEM enables is lacking. A student (especially minority students) can go from K-12 having zero contact with a scientist or engineer and many students who graduate with STEM degrees do not understand the broader, economic context of that STEM degree. Policy makers can make great impact by creating more opportunities for entrepreneurial ventures, providing incentives to companies that actively partner with minority start-ups and incorporate a STEM education component into their commercial strategies.

3:  Increased recruitment of minority candidates

Support recruitment minority recruitment efforts for competitive scholarships and fellowships and establish more sources of funding for such opportunities.  It is important that policymakers coordinate efforts to reach STEM diversity workforce goals. Synchronizing organizational efforts will improve effectiveness and efficiency and reduce costs through program sharing.

4:  Incentivize the retention of minorities in the STEM fields

The call for diversity without the resources to support the initiatives will yield zero results. Bias training, a progressive work environment, and mentoring programs are key enablers of success. Federally funded organizations and institutions should not be incentivized for the number of minorities recruited, but the number of students that fully matriculate or are promoted in a timely manner.  Make diversity mandatory for funding and resources. This includes diversity within corporate boards and the executive leadership with opportunities for training, mentorship, and sponsor for minority candidates.  Also, creating a network/community to share information would be extremely useful.

5:  Increased Transparency and Accountability

It is important to compare pay and promotion equity and the percent of underrepresented minorities at all levels of an organization. Policy makers must demand accountability for diverse outcomes.

Q:   What recommendations do you have for members of the aforementioned science underrepresented groups who want to pursue Chemistry studies and enter Chemistry related professions and businesses?

Gilmore:  Today, the student population at national institutions of higher education is growing and classrooms are becoming more diverse and internationalized.  However, the shortage of African Americans and other minority students, including women, still exists. 

in response, the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE) is dedicated to building an eminent cadre of people of color in STEM and is working to increase the numbers of African Americans, and other minorities, including women pursuing careers in chemical studies and entering a chemistry related professions and/or business.

Education is the key to a successful life and it is imperative that individuals who are equipped with the knowledge and the skill set realize the need and benefit of pursuing a career in chemistry and or chemistry related profession. As our world is steadily evolving and becoming more diverse and globalized it is imperative that members of the aforementioned science underrepresented groups pursue the following in order to prepare for a career in a chemistry related profession:

·      Higher education

·      Research experiences

·      Conference participation (i.e., poster, oral presenters)

·      International experiences

·      Building a network of mentors and advisors

·      Leadership training

Elementary and Middle School

·      Participate in STEM programs and summer camps

·      Visit museums and STEM exhibits

·      Get exposure to minority professional role models who work in a variety of STEM fiends

·      Participate in scientific competitions like science fairs and science bowls

Hampton:

High School

·      Contact a professor at a local university about possible volunteer or internship opportunities in their lab

·      Participate in scientific competitions like science fairs and science bowls

·      Participate in mentoring programs

·      Join youth chapters of minority technical organizations (MTOs) like NSBE and NOBCChE

·      Search for and participate in programs that provide free or low cost SAT prep to ensure a competitive score.

·      Give back. Mentor other students, volunteer in STEM programs

Undergrad and Graduate School

·      Obtain a research assistantship. If one is not available, volunteer in a lab that you are interested in to ensure that the experience is on your resume

·      Present your research at conferences and look for opportunities to publish as often as possible

·      Maintain a portfolio of all your posters, publications, and other scientific contributions

·      Obtain a variety of internship and Co-Op experiences. Companies prefer some level of industry experience and rarely hire students who don’t have this.

·      Search for and participate in programs that provide free or low cost GRE prep to ensure a competitive score.

·      Take some business courses and look for opportunities to connect STEM to the business

·      Become an active member of professional organizations like NOBCChE, the American Chemical Society, American Institute of Chemical Engineers.

·      Maintain an up-to-date resume and have business cards

·      Give back. Mentor other students, volunteer in STEM programs

·      Use your network. Use LinkedIn to broaden your network. Never be afraid to ask for help

 

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2011 The Innovative Science & Technology Group (ISTGTM)