21 Jun 2021

Increasing Diversity in the STEM Workforce through Broader Participation

In June, nearly a dozen students from Alabama Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) started Summer Undergraduate Research Experience in Genomic Medicine (SURE-GM) at the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology.

SURE-GM is a 2-year summer program for outstanding undergraduates attending HBCUs in Alabama who want to explore a career as a scientific investigator in the fields of genetics and genomics. Students spend the first summer at HudsonAlpha and concentrate on training in fundamental research skills. The second summer provides a mentored research experience in a research lab at either the University of Alabama-Birmingham or HudsonAlpha. 

“I am looking forward to gaining lab experience, networking with peers and experiencing Huntsville,” said Eric Thompson, an Alabama State University undergraduate student majoring in health informatics. “The facilities at HudsonAlpha are some of the best I have seen.”

The first summer session, based at HudsonAlpha, emphasizes foundational knowledge in genetics, genomics, bioinformatics, laboratory skills, and provides exposure to multiple research opportunities. This session includes hands-on learning and laboratory activities, exposure to fundamental principles of genetics and genomics, structured activities, seminars and professional development training, preparing students for a mentored research experience the following summer.

“The caliber of students we have encountered through the SURE-GM program has been inspiring for the future STEM and biotech workforce,” said Jenifer Ferguson, PhD, HudsonAlpha Educational Outreach workforce development specialist. “We are happy to play a role in their education and career development.”

During the academic year, participants will have opportunities to continue their development through monthly seminars. In addition, they will connect with mentors to discuss possible research projects and discuss ethical, legal and social concerns relevant to current research in genomic medicine.

A native of Denver, Colo. and studying biology and pre-medical at Tuskegee University, Lindsey Glenn said, “I am absolutely astounded and impressed by HudsonAlpha. Everyone has been welcoming. I hope to gain hands-on research experience, which was limited due to COVID-19, as well as network and make new connections.”

SURE-GM is part of HudsonAlpha’s workforce development offering. These opportunities engage students in programs that increase the exposure to equipment and techniques, grow their knowledge and develop the skills necessary to contribute to STEM fields and biotechnology workforce.

To support educational outreach and workforce development programs at HudsonAlpha, visit hudsonalpha.org/education-give.