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ORNL, minority-serving institutions discuss partnership opportunities, showcase student research

The Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory hosted a collaboration workshop Nov. 19-20 with faculty and students from 14 historically black colleges and universities, or HBCUs, and Hispanic-serving institutions, or HSIs, including Spelman College in Atlanta, Howard University in Washington, D.C., and Florida International University in Miami.

The “Fostering Strategic Partnerships with HBCUs and HSIs” workshop, presented by ORNL’s Office of Research Excellence and Office of Diversity, aimed to provide faculty and students at minority-serving institutions with information about internship and career opportunities at the lab and to encourage scientific collaboration between these institutions and ORNL research programs.

“ORNL is committed to building a diverse and talented workforce,” said Deborah Bowling, ORNL’s Office of Diversity manager. “Teams including different perspectives and backgrounds are integral to the success of ORNL’s research and operations missions.”

“We have a partnership with Oak Ridge to find new ways, innovative ways, to not only increase the production of PhD candidates on our campuses but to also create opportunities for our students. And, at Oak Ridge, we’ll also see the quality of talent that we’re producing at the nation’s HBCUs,” said Joyce Payne, founder of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and a workshop panel moderator.

Workshop highlights included a keynote by ORNL Deputy of Science and Technology Michelle Buchanan; a student poster session and an ORNL staff and postdoc poster session; a working dinner with remarks from Earth Sciences Group Leader Eric Pierce; and panel discussions, led by faculty and administrators from HBCUs and HSIs and ORNL researchers and leaders, on topics ranging from challenges and opportunities in STEM to furthering ORNL engagement with minority-serving institutions.

The best poster winners from the student poster session were Nyesa Enakaya from Howard University, Guddi Suman from Prairie View A&M University, and Jovin Lazare from Clark Atlanta University.

ORNL is managed by UT-Battelle for the Department of Energy's Office of Science, the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States. DOE’s Office of Science is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit –– Katie Jones