DPC Newsletter

Student Conferences Spotlight

Volume 7, Issue 3

Consortium News

BUILDing future researchers: DPC series highlights the BUILD Class of 2022

By Melissa Simon

Natural landscapes, wildlife, a microscope or even a scientist hosting a children’s TV show — the reasons for why a person becomes a researcher can be as different as the fields of science they can go into. 

The Diversity Program Consortium (DPC) interviewed six recent graduates who participated in the BUILD programs to learn how their biomedical career journeys began as part of its newest series, “BUILDing Future Researchers: 2022 Graduates Share Their Stories.”

Samantha Wade

In the first spotlight, University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) graduate Samantha Wade shares how the natural beauty of the landscape in her hometown of Wainwright, Alaska, and the lack of healthcare available to her community inspired her to become a scientist.

Read about how Wade’s time in the UAF Biomedical Learning and Student Training (BLaST) research program has helped shape her research journey so far.

Learn about UAF BLaST.

Rebekah Hightower

A microscope was all it took to make Rebekah Hightower’s career path clear to her—she was going to be a scientist.

In the second spotlight, read about how Hightower’s time in the BUILDing SCHOLARS program at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), helped her work toward her goal of combining clinical nutrition and neuroscience to help people facing healthcare disparities.


Tyler Alexander

Science wasn’t Tyler Alexander’s first love growing up, but all it took was a pharmacy technician class in high school to set the Xavier University of Louisiana (XULA) alumna on the road to being a scientist.

Read about how the XULA Project Pathways program helped Alexander develop her confidence as a researcher in the third spotlight.

Learn about XULA Project Pathways.

Lorenzo Ramirez

In the fourth spotlight, Lorenzo Ramirez shares how he wasn’t like the other kids in his neighborhood growing up. Instead of playing sports, he was a self-proclaimed nerd who declared from a young age that he was going to be a scientist who would change the world.

Read about how the San Francisco State University (SFSU) BUILD program helped Ramirez find his place in the scientific community.

Learn about SF BUILD.

Raphael Zambrano

Raphael Zambrano’s love for science was born while exploring his grandparents’ farm in the Philippines. That passion, combined with a desire to better inform people about research, has led the California State University, Northridge (CSUN) alumnus to pursue a career as a physician.

Read about how the CSUN BUILD PODER program helped Zambrano expand his view of research in the fifth spotlight. 


Tyler Nelson

The final spotlight for the "BUILDing Future Researchers" series highlights Tyler Nelson, a recent graduate of California State University, Long Beach (CSULB).

Read about how a high school psychology class sent Nelson down a path toward research and how her participation in the CSULB BUILD program helped her discover a passion for science and feel connected to the biomedical workforce. 

Learn about CSULB BUILD.

Read all of the BUILDing Future Researchers stories on the DPC’s News & Media page and watch the students’ interviews on YouTube.

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SF BUILD CIRCLE poster advanced to top 10 finalist for award at Annual Society of Clinical Research Associates’ (SOCRA) Conference

By Alexandra Velasquez and Komal Rana

The SF BUILD Clinical Research Coordinators: Learners for Equity (CIRCLE) team’s poster was ranked among the top 10 finalists for the “Poster Program Special Recognition Award” at the 31st Annual Society of Clinical Research Associates’ (SOCRA) Conference.


The CIRCLE training program aims to diversify the clinical research coordinators’ (CRC) workforce, and the program has resulted in 13 hires at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) in the past two years. As a part of SF BUILD, the goal of CIRCLE is to prepare historically underrepresented individuals to become CRCs, helping diversify the clinical research workforce, which in turn is believed to encourage increased diversity of research participants.  


The CIRCLE team submitted a poster, titled “The Clinical Research Coordinators: Learners for Equity (CIRCLE): Diversifying the Clinical Research Workforce,” to the SOCRA Annual Conference Poster Program. SOCRA is a notable platform to disperse knowledge and research findings within an area of interest in clinical research. It is also a space for researchers to share their discoveries and achievements with their colleagues and other professionals in the field. The CIRCLE team’s poster was presented and selected as a top 10 finalist for the special recognition award in the clinical research management category. 

CIRCLE consists of a two-week training and a 20-hour shadowing program. San Francisco State University (SFSU) students, UCSF employees and community members are invited to apply and participate. The two-week training includes didactic and practical modules based on the Core Competency Model developed by the Joint Task Force for Clinical Trial Competency.   


Scholars in the CIRCLE program complete their 20-hour shadowing experience with a UCSF CRC mentor chosen by the scholar based on research affinity and the potential for a long lasting relationship. The goal is for scholars to gain firsthand experience with the roles and responsibilities of a CRC at UCSF.   


The CIRCLE training program’s success to date is thanks to the hard work of their scholars, mentors and partners, and is supported by funding from the NIH. Additional information is available on the CIRCLE website

Read the welcome message from SOCRA President Abby Statler, PhD, MPH, MA, CCRP.

Fall 2022 recap: PSU BUILD EXITO hosts summer research symposium, welcomes new student cohort

By Arjun Viray

Large group photo of BUILD EXITO Scholars and URISE Scholars sitting on steps at the Annual Summer Research Symposium at Portland State University.

BUILD EXITO and URISE Scholars presented their research at the 7th Annual Summer Research Symposium (SRS) from Sept. 20 to 22 at Portland State University. For many BUILD EXITO scholars, this was their first time presenting in-person since the COVID-19 pandemic began. While some expressed feeling anxious and nervous, they all presented with a level of professionalism that many in the audience felt.

Thomas Keller, PhD, who serves as the Principal Investigator (PI) of both BUILD EXITO and URISE, said he was inspired to see scholars demonstrate their knowledge, skill and confidence in presenting their research. 

“Scholars are making important contributions to research on a fascinating range of topics,” Keller said. “We are really pleased by the wonderful accomplishments of our scholars, which reflect so much growth and development and hard work since beginning the program.”

Read more here. To view scholars’ posters and recorded oral presentations, head to our SRS Google Site!

PSU BUILD EXITO Welcomes Cohort 8 Scholars

In September, BUILD EXITO also welcomed 40 new students to join their eighth cohort. The program has served 613 students since 2015, and this year’s cohort will experience just one year of programming called “EXITO Introductory Year.” Cohort 8 will benefit from weekly workshops, career mentoring from faculty, peer mentoring from alumni scholars, advising and other support. 

In February 2023, students will have the opportunity to apply for a new program element called Spring Term Research Intensive (STRI). Through STRI, students will receive a stipend to attend skills development workshops to learn how to read journal articles, train in the responsible conduct of research through the CITI Certification on Human Subjects Research and learn how to develop and deliver an “elevator pitch” on their interests.

The culminating experience for cohort 8 will be a Research Learning Community (RLC) fair during Spring 2023, where students will meet with PSU and OHSU researchers who are recruiting students for research opportunities in their labs.

The RLC Fair will be structured similarly to a career recruitment fair where researchers and students are able to meet individually to discuss research in their labs.

Students will also have the opportunity to apply to the URISE program, where they can access paid research opportunities and continue receiving mentoring from EXITO staff and faculty. 

BUILD EXITO’s newest cohort of students at an onboarding session.

CSULB BUILD Fall 2022 highlights and updates

By Nicole Streicker

CSULB BUILD community gathers outdoors to share food and fun. From left: Sarah Velasco, Araceli Gonzalez, Chi-Ah Chun, Marc Barcelos, Young-Hee Cho, Panadda Marayong, Maeve Allen, Nicole Streicker, Anais Johnson and Emma Rosas

October 2022 Activities 

On Oct. 14, the California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) BUILD program hosted researchers from the Coordination and Evaluation Center (CEC) at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) as part of their Phase II case study.  

The researchers visited the CSULB BUILD Center, a private space for BUILD students to use to study, take exams and mingle. Throughout the day, the CEC researchers interviewed various CSULB administrators and got a tour of the Behavioral Research and Instruction in the Neurosciences (BRAIN) Initiative, a research facility supported by the BUILD grant. 

CSULB BUILD hosted a fall potluck picnic on Oct. 22, where attendees brought a dish to share and socialize with each other and the BUILD Team. 

CSULB BUILD Colloquium Fall Speaker Series

Each semester, CSULB BUILD invites two external speakers as part of the BUILD Learning Community. Speakers are typically faculty conducting health-related research who will share a research presentation and their personal and professional journey with the students, who are encouraged to ask questions, provide comments and use this as an opportunity for networking.

The CSULB campus community is invited to attend the events and hear from the speakers.

In Fall 2022, CSULB hosted two speakers: Claudia Toledo Corral, PhD, and Brian Luna, PhD.

Corral is an assistant professor of health sciences at the California State University, Northridge (CSUN). Her talk was called “The Role of Psychosocial and Environmental Stressors on Metabolic Risk in Minority Youth.”

Claudia Toledo Corral, PhD, (left) and Brian Luna, PhD, (right).

Luna is an assistant professor of molecular microbiology and immunology at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California. His talk was called “New treatments, with old drugs, against carbapenem-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii.”  

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The Diversity Program Consortium Coordination and Evaluation Center at UCLA is supported by Office of the Director of the National Institutes of Health / National Institutes of General Medical Sciences under award number U54GM119024.

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