Photo of African American students at a microscope in a lab
18 Sep 2023

Sparking Equity in STEM Careers: The Alabama Power Foundation

The Alabama Power Foundation’s support of HudsonAlpha’s HBCU internship with the Alabama Office of Minority Affairs is making the STEM workforce more inclusive and diverse


Last year marked the first year of HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology’s HBCU internship program, offered in collaboration with the Alabama Office of Minority Affairs (AOMA) and Alabama’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). 

The HudsonAlpha HBCU Internships offer opportunities for undergraduate students at Alabama’s HBCUs to spend up to 12 months working in laboratories at HudsonAlpha, developing skills in biotechnology and related fields.

HudsonAlpha Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Darrell Ezell, PhD, says the program provides an opportunity for students to “gain mentorship under some of the finest scientists and instructors in the area of genomics.”

Made possible by the support from the Alabama Power Foundation, HudsonAlpha’s HBCU internship program provides students from underrepresented backgrounds with invaluable hands-on experience and opens doors to exciting career opportunities. As the program enters its second year, the Alabama Power Foundation has renewed its generous donation, ensuring this year’s students will have an equally transformative year. 


Making STEM a more inclusive field through the power of philanthropy

The Alabama Power Foundation has a long history of supporting nonprofit organizations across Alabama that celebrate diversity and work to make the state a more inclusive place . From education to the arts, the Foundation is proud to fund projects that bridge inequity gaps in the state and empower the underserved. 

HudsonAlpha’s HBCU internship matched perfectly with the Foundation’s goals, inspiring the Foundation to support the program in its first year and renew support for the second. 

“HudsonAlpha’s HBCU intern program seeks to lower the barriers to entry for students from underrepresented backgrounds to gain experiential learning in STEM and work alongside our esteemed scientists in the lab,” said Dr. Ezell. “This would not be possible without the support of the Alabama Power Foundation and its commitment to advancing diversity in STEM education. We are also grateful to our ongoing partnership with the Alabama Office of Minority Affairs that enables us to provide these kinds of experiential learning opportunities to some of our state’s brightest collegiate students.”


A jump start to rewarding STEM careers

Students selected for this year’s cohort will explore STEM careers with one of our mentors: Faculty Investigators Josh Clevenger, PhD, Sara Cooper, PhD, Alex Harkess, PhD, and Kankshita Swaminathan, PhD, and Scott Ross, Director of IT.

Joycelyn Williams leaning over microscopeThe program’s inaugural cohort successfully completed their internships, participating in research on ovarian cancer, biofuel and biomass, and educational outreach. Most have now gone on to complete their studies in STEM and solidify their career plans.

For Joycelyn Williams, one of two interns who served in Dr. Sara Cooper’s lab researching ovarian cancer, the HudsonAlpha HBCU internship led to a prestigious opportunity. After finishing her internship year at the Institute, Joycelyn joined the Cancer Research Training Program in the Chemical Biology Division of the National Cancer Institute, a mentored fellowship program aimed at preparing students for a career in cancer research. 

“It’s rewarding to spend a year investing in our interns by collaborating with them and providing them with enriching learning opportunities,” said Dr. Cooper. “These students have been an important part of our lab and contributed greatly to the work that we do. We look forward to welcoming the new cohort this year. It’s exciting to think of what these students will accomplish.”