University Park, IL,
09:48 AM

Stokes' STEM Program Provides Exceptional Experience


Governors State University is doing its part to diversify science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). At the recent Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) Symposium, Governors State students not only participated in the conference, but GSU Professors accounted for over 50 percent of the event’s judges.

The LSAMP Symposium gives undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to present their research accomplishments in biology, chemistry, computer science, and mathematics either orally or as poster presentations.

That includes students such as Quincy Santomieri, an undergraduate student in the Biology Program at Governors State. Santomieri is currently working on research projects regarding soil composition with Biology Professors Xiaoyong Chen and Tim Gsell at Governors State.

For Santomieri, the LSAMP program and his work with Dr. Chen have made his educational experience exceptional.

“There is little doubt that working with him and engaging in the symposium has reinvigorated my sense of belonging in STEM,” Santomieri said.

Alongside student presentations, chemistry Professors Joong-Won Shin, Shelly Kumar, and John Sowa; Biology Professors Xiaoyong Chen and Aparna Palakodeti, Professors of Computer Science Xin (Jasmine) Chen and Freddie B. Kato, Jr., and chemistry graduate student Yasmin Dayeh volunteered their time as judges for the presentations.

With judging as the main way that the students receive feedback on their research project, proposals, and presentation skills, judges’ contributions made a direct impact on the students at the symposium.

The LSAMP program’s overall goal is to assist universities and colleges in diversifying the nation’s STEM workforce by increasing the number of STEM baccalaureate and graduate degrees awarded to populations historically underrepresented in these disciplines: African Americans, Hispanic Americans, American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, and Native Pacific Islanders.

Professor of inorganic chemistry and coordinator of the GSU LSAMP program, Sanjaya Ranmohotti, sees the positive impact the program and the symposium can have on student outcomes.

“If we can take initiatives to increase the number of participants from GSU in this symposium, these efforts will continue to improve both our retention and graduation rates,” Dr. Ranmohotti said. “While concurrently paving the way to a successful career path in STEM for our students who may otherwise not have such opportunities.”

Alongside the presentations, the symposium featured guest speakers, including keynote speaker Dr. Kevin Brown, from Argonne National Laboratory. The symposium also gave students the chance to network with professionals in the field of STEM. Ranmohotti noted that the two-day event acted as “an arena for developing community among participants.”

For Santomieri, this was the perfect blend of support he needed. As a nontraditional student returning to higher education at the age of 38, the opportunity to present alongside other students his age at the symposium and to hear Dr. Brown’s story made for an impactful event.

“It was his story and ambition that reminded me that we are never too old to pursue our dreams. In that regard, the LSAMP program has already inspired me to stay the course with my own goals.”

After graduation, Santomieri plans to pursue a career as a physician assistant.

“If I manage to succeed, it will be in no small part due to the impact of Dr. Chen’s faith in me and my role in the LSAMP program has played in keeping me motivated towards reaching my goals.”