Empowering Underrepresented Students in Science

Empowering Underrepresented Students in Science

STEM Students Speak

1st Edition - September 23, 2021

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  • Authors: Sonji Johnson-Anderson, Ranjana Lingutla, Margaret Riley
  • eBook ISBN: 9780323904704
  • Paperback ISBN: 9780323904698

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Empowering Underrepresented Students in Science: STEM Students Speak chronicles the best practices of a STEM retention program for underrepresented minority students (URM) at a public university. Written mostly as an engaging series of vignettes, this story invites its audience to examine the “underbelly” of this successful program. It reveals to readers what lies at the heart of creating and sustaining a STEM retention program that is as inviting as it is vital. The program’s practice of reflection helps to build students’ self-efficacy and self-understanding. This book addresses the problem of merely throwing resources at a program to have it only achieve mild success. Most STEM retention/support programs offer a litany of “things” they think are necessary for students, especially traditionally underserved students, to survive in STEM. We contend that our program goes beyond merely throwing money at a need, to critically assessing the need through the lens of inclusive practices. Our program attempts to engage with the whole selves of the students we serve.

Key Features

  • Proposes a focused, strategic approach to offering support to underrepresented minority (URM) students
  • Shares easily reproducible ways to build a STEM support program to replicate the success at UMASS AP
  • Features an engaging, readable style with real-world applications


Faculty and academic administration resource. Students/Researchers/Professionals

Table of Contents

  • 1. Who Needs STEM Support?
    2. Developing a What? A STEM Identity?
    3. Mentoring Networks: Are They Even Necessary?
    4. Surely, There Aren’t Enough Research Experiences for all of us. Are there?
    5. Of What Use is the STEM Community?
    6. Could You Create a STEM Support System in Your Community?

Product details

  • No. of pages: 128
  • Language: English
  • Copyright: © Academic Press 2021
  • Published: September 23, 2021
  • Imprint: Academic Press
  • eBook ISBN: 9780323904704
  • Paperback ISBN: 9780323904698

About the Authors

Sonji Johnson-Anderson

Sonji Johnson-Anderson is the Director at the UMass Amherst STEM Ambassadors Program. Sonji’s research interests sit at the intersection of Black Feminist Epistemology, Critical Race Theory and Performance Ethnography. Her work focuses on the experiences of students and families who are marginalized in public domains, primarily educational institutions. A gifted educator and public speaker, Sonji brings decades of teaching experience and a deep commitment to critical and culturally relevant pedagogy. Sonji has taught in K-12 classrooms, as well as higher education contexts in Western Massachusetts, New York City and Jamaica, and currently lectures in world literature at Westfield State University. Dr. Johnson-Anderson develops and teaches/facilitates courses, workshops, lectures, trainings, public events, and performances.

Affiliations and Expertise

Director, UMass Amherst STEM Ambassadors Program, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, Massachusetts, USA

Ranjana Lingutla

Ranjana Lingutla is a medical student at the Tufts University School of Medicine. She earned her B.S. in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. As a native of rural Western Massachusetts, she spent years serving and mentoring students from traditionally marginalized backgrounds. She mentored high school STEM students in Pittsfield Public School’s Science & Engineering Academy and mentored and advised STEM undergraduates in the Commonwealth Honors College Advising Center. Because of her passion for equal education and student welfare, Ranjana was recruited to Dr. Riley’s STEM Ambassadors Program where she has since served as a Peer-Mentoring Instructor, Undergraduate Program Manager, and current Assistant Director.

Affiliations and Expertise

Medical Student, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Margaret Riley

Margaret (Peg) Riley is a Professor in the Department of Biology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She received her Ph.D. from Harvard and served on the faculty at Yale until she moved to UMass in 2012. Peg’s research focuses on the evolution of antibiotic resistance and the use of ecological approaches to drug discovery. She is one of the pioneers of narrow spectrum antimicrobials, which provide novel solutions to the global challenge of antibiotic resistance. Dr. Riley is also known for her efforts to increase civic science literacy leading to the creation of the Massachusetts Academy of Sciences in 2007. She has also appeared on several of Bill Nye’s shows and podcasts. Most recently, she created the NSF grant-funded STEM Ambassadors Program, whose mission is to build a supportive and diverse community of STEM scholars at the college level. Her program has resulted in improved outcomes for over 250 students at UMass Amherst and she is now poised to bring this program’s tenets to a wider audience of STEM faculty, university administrators, and leaders in STEM industries and funding agencies.

Affiliations and Expertise

Professor, Department of Biology, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, Massachusetts, United States

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