By Sandra Hardy, University of Texas at El Paso

About the Scientist

As a PhD Geophysics student, this year I was given the opportunity to participate in two of the most imperative scientific conferences in the nation, the 2015 Geological Society of America (GSA) Annual Meeting and the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) National Conference. My name is Sandra Hardy; I am currently a graduate student at The University of Texas at El Paso. My focus of study includes seismology, digital image and signal processing and geodetics. Being able to attend these meetings was highly beneficial to my career. The meetings allowed me to share my passion and commitment for science with fellow colleagues. I feel attending these national conferences allows aspiring scientists such as myself to develop their skills to their full potential, and being able to learn and interact with experienced scientists and engineers is a reward itself.

SACNAS offered geology students the opportunity to learn about the geology of the national monuments during an informative field trip in Washington DC.

Becoming a SACNISTA

The SACNAS National Conference was definitely one of the most enjoyable meetings I’ve ever attended. The sense of family and unity was felt as soon as I stepped into the conference center. Everyone in the meeting was always so enthusiastic about his or her research. I met incredible talented people who I am proud to call my colleagues. I met outstanding scientists who not only love what they do, but do it with such passion and humility that they help the scientific community grow. SACNAS also allowed me to learn about the various branches of science and how each one of them can be incorporated into the other. Science involves the fusing of many ideas, being capable of teaching and learning from each other is vital for the success of the scientific community. Becoming a part of the SACNAS family allowed me to grow as an individual, to open my mind to other ideas and to have a sense of family in my career.

Sacnistas join in the conference-wide #SACNAS2015 selfie

There’s no place like GSA

As soon as I walked into the GSA Annual Meeting, I knew I was home. I felt a sense of belonging and understanding; these people are my colleagues, my collaborators and my scientific family. I had never attended a GSA meeting before, but I knew I’d enjoy this meeting as soon as I walked in the door. The GSA meeting was incredibly rewarding. The variety of subjects within my research field alone is mind-blowing. This meeting allowed me to collaborate and get feedback on my research. I was also able to interview and obtain information for a large number of internships and fellowships. I will most likely be interning at a national lab thanks to the networking I accomplished here. I will definitely be returning to the GSA Annual Meeting in years to come.

NASA gave an interesting talk on the current research being conducted on Mars.

The End of an Adventure

Thanks to GSA’s On To the Future program, I was able to attend two incredibly rewarding conferences last fall. Opportunities such as these allow us aspiring scientists to learn, to network and more importantly to grow as scientists. Both experiences have enabled me to share my love of science with fellow colleagues and implement my scientific knowledge into ideas that have a direct impact on the scientific community. Being selected as a recipient of the 2015 On To the Future Travel Scholarship allowed me to attend these remarkable events and to continue striving to become a better scientist.

The GSA National Meeting took place in Baltimore, MD allowing scientists to collaborate in a city with amazing scenery.

On To the Future is a GSA program that supports students and recent graduates from underrepresented groups to attend their first GSA Annual Meeting. GSA is currently accepting applications for this program through 27 May 2016.

Support to fund students to attend the 2015 SACNAS National Confernece and GSA Annual Meeting was provided by the National Science Foundation. The project was a collaboration with GSA, SACNAS, the American Geosciences Institute (AGI), the Incorporated Research Institute for Seismology (IRIS), the Society for Stratigraphy (SEPM), and the STEPPE Coordinating Office.

For more information on SACNAS: