WPI Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (Academic Year 2022 – 2023 Narrative Report)

2022 Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minoritized Scientists (ABRCMS)

2022 Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minoritized Scientists (ABRCMS)

Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) continued to ramp up its LSAMP Scholar Program in academic year 2022-2023 as it emerged from the transitions of academic year 2021-2022. Two (2) new co-PIs, Dr. Jeannine Coburn, Associate Professor in Biomedical Engineering and Dr. Catherine Whittington, Assistant Professor in Biomedical Engineering, were brought on to begin to establish a knowledge base and a sense of continuity.

Drs. Coburn and Whittington filled a critical role in the program, as PI Dr. Funmi Ayobami went on parental leave in the middle of the academic year. As in previous years, the coordination of events and programming was led by Arnold Lane, Director of Multicultural Education and Community Engagement in the Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Multicultural Education (ODIME). We also added a new staff member from ODIME to the team – Alesia LeSane, Assistant Director for Multicultural Education and Student Success who will be the primary liaison between ODIME and LSAMP moving forward. Working as a team, we continued the programming established in previous years, while adding additional events related to professional and academic development.

To start, we inducted sixteen (16) new LSAMP Scholars at the beginning of the academic year. Specifically, we inducted six (6) first-year students, five (5) sophomore students, two (2) juniors, and three (3) seniors. They all self-identified as being part of an underrepresented minoritized population, all majoring in STEM fields, and interested in research and graduate school.

Throughout the academic year, students participated in an initial pinning ceremony and quarterly LSAMP Scholar Meetings. During these meetings, we discussed topics including the structure and purpose of WPI’s LSAMP Scholar Program, career opportunities through the WPI Teacher Prep Program, mental health and well-being, Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REUs), graduate school application and selection process, and how to make effective use of the WPI Career Development Center. These meetings also included time for students to form small groups and share advice on navigating classes, projects, social situations, etc. Questions were often posed to direct these discussions, and student engagement during this portion of the meetings was high. These peer interactions helped build connections between LSAMP scholars, particular those of different academic classifications and majors. All LSAMP Scholar Meetings were conducted in person with a virtual option via Zoom.

This year, we also developed a Lunch ‘n Learn series which included workshops and interactive sessions on “Why Graduate School”, “Marketing Yourself”, “All About REU Programs”, “How are Your REU Applications?”, “Teaching as a STEM Professional and Change Agent”, and “Community Service at WPI”. These sessions aimed to not only educate scholars about graduate school, REU programs and professional development, but also served as opportunities for students to engage with each other and begin actively preparing their application materials.

The academic year ended with the graduation of sixteen (16) senior LSAMP Scholars, with three (3) LSAMP Scholars indicating that they will be attending graduate school in the Fall. Two (2) scholars will be continuing with Master's programs in Biomedical Engineering and Systems Engineering at WPI, while the third scholar will begin a PhD program in Mechanical Engineering and Material Science at Harvard University. Two (2) senior LSAMP Scholars also reported they will begin industry jobs at MITRE and Citizens Bank upon graduation.

Throughout the academic year, several LSAMP Scholars participated in internships, research experiences and presented their work at conferences. Four (4) LSAMP Scholars reported participating in internships at MITRE (as a Systems Engineer), Ensign-Bickford Aerospace & Defense (Production Planning Intern), Confluent Medical Engineering (Manufacturing Engineering), and WPI (Office of Sustainability Intern). Three (3) LSAMP Scholars reported participating in REU programs at UConn, WPI, and Harvard. Twelve (12) LSAMP Scholars reported receiving awards and scholarships, including the WPI Crimson and Gray Award, the Wells Fargo Hispanic Scholarship Fund, and induction into Omega Chi Epsilon (Chemical Engineering Honor Society).

National Science Foundation (NSF) Logo

National Science Foundation (NSF) Logo

To support many of their accomplishments, several scholars received funding through the WPI LSAMP Scholars Program grant, the Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Multicultural Education (ODIME), and our partners and corporate sponsors. Specifically, we awarded funding for book stipends, professional development funds, educational support, and research scholarships through the LSAMP grant, which were used for professional development opportunities such as attending conferences, completing research projects, and paying for trainings. For example, two (2) LSAMP Scholars used LSAMP Professional Development funds to pay for attendance and participation at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) RoboSoft 2023 conference in Singapore, Asia and one (1) LSAMP Scholar attended the 2022 Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minoritized Scholars (ABRCMS) in Anaheim, California. Other students used LSAMP SPOT Scholarship funds to support their research projects, which included research on “A Woodfire Clay Oven for the WPI Community”, “Non-invasive characterization of bio-engineered tissues by laser doppler vibrometry”, and “Identifying Growth Factors Produced by Pancreatic Cancer Cells”. Other impactful use of the funds was supporting twenty-two (22) WPI students’ attendance to the 2023 National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) Annual Convention in Kansas City, Missouri and twenty-two (22) WPI students’ attendance to the 2022 Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.

In addition to the LSAMP grant, ODIME once again secured funding support for LSAMP scholars through a generous donation from Teradyne, Inc. This gift allowed for funding different awards, research funding, professional development, educational support, and school supplies to support LSAMP scholars this past year.

As the summer approached, we collaborated with the WPI Early Research Experience in E-term (EREE) Program which engages students in summer research opportunities at WPI. Two (2) current LSAMP scholars were selected for the program, and four (4) additional students were recruited as summer LSAMP Scholars, and their summer research projects were funded by the program. Students are currently engaging in independent research ranging from Robotics Engineering to Data Science, and actively participating in weekly professional development workshops through the EREE program. These scholars will complete the program and present their research in a poster presentation to the WPI community in August 2023.

The WPI LSAMP team was able to successfully continue the program in AY 22-23. We are especially grateful to Drs. Coburn and Whittington who willingly served as co-PIs for the program, filling an urgent need as PI Dr. Ayobami went on parental leave. As we move forward, we plan to continue to build upon our work this past year and include additional programming geared towards research, professional development, graduate school options, and increasing engagement for the scholars. Once again, special thanks goes to the ODIME team led by Arnold Lane, Alesia LeSane, Mike Petro at UConn, and our friends at Teradyne, Inc. for all their support during this year.

For more information and resources about WPI's LSAMP Scholar Program, please visit:

Teradyne, Inc. Logo

Teradyne, Inc. Logo

The Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Multicultural Education (ODIME) promotes and oversees all student facing diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) learning experiences, programs, services, trainings, and initiatives for WPI.