Back by popular demand: The Rising Stars Symposium at Sanford Burnham Prebys
The annual event aims to foster greater diversity in biomedical research and shine a spotlight on the next generation of scientific leaders.
Sanford Burnham Prebys recently hosted its second annual Rising Stars Symposium, an event that showcases the biomedical research of exceptional postdoctoral and junior faculty candidates from across the country.
“This was such a valuable learning experience for me,” says Rising Star Laura Menocal, currently a Ph.D. candidate at Weill Cornell Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. “Participating in the Rising Stars Symposium gave me an important opportunity not only to share my own scientific accomplishments, but also to network and connect with other scientists who share the same passions at an institution that actively fosters inclusivity.”
The 12 Rising Stars were invited, all expenses paid, to the Institute to present their research, network and learn more about postdoctoral and junior faculty opportunities there.
“This year’s Stars shone bright with their promise and dedication to science,” says Angelica Rocha, Ph.D., diversity officer, head of the DEI Council at Sanford Burnham Prebys and one of the key organizers of the Symposium. “Their work could lead to the scientific breakthroughs that change the way we view and treat disease. They are at a pivotal stage in their careers, and we would be thrilled if they made our Institute their new home.”
The event was hosted by the NCI-designated Cancer Center’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Team and the Institute’s DEI Recruiting Committee, who strive to create an inclusive workforce through equitable hiring, recruitment, and retention practices.
“Many organizations use diversity and inclusion as buzzwords without taking any concrete steps to actually create inclusive systems and environments,” says Menocal. “Sanford Burnham Prebys is breaking this mold by hosting the Rising Stars Symposium, and I am so proud to have been able to participate.”
After a brief introduction from President and CEO David Brenner, M.D., UC San Diego professor JoAnn Trejo, Ph.D., opened the day of presentations with a keynote address discussing her research on cellular signaling and her experience as a first-generation college student. She also spoke about her years of experience promoting diversity in the biomedical scientists and mentoring early-career scientists.
“I didn’t grow up in a family of scientists. I actually grew up in a family of migrant farmworkers,” said Trejo during her talk. “I had no immediate role models and no one to guide me into what I was going to do. It was mentors who helped me get there—crossing paths with the right people, making connections, and getting good advice and guidance.”
In addition to presenting their work, the Stars were the guests of honor at an afternoon reception celebrating diversity in science. They also participated in professional development workshops, toured the laboratories and core facilities of the Institute, and met with faculty to learn more about career opportunities.