Regina Stevens-Truss

The Education of Underrepresented Students in STEM: An Interview with Dr. Michael Summers

By Regina Stevens-Truss, Contributing Editor, Science and Social Justice, and Kalamazoo College students Virginia Greenberger, Amanda Bolles, and Rina Fujiwara

Now in its 26th year, the Meyerhoff Scholars Program at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) is a model for all to follow. This program has its humble beginnings in 1988 and was created as a means to provide financial assistance for the STEM education of African American male students. Today, the program boasts over 900 alumni, with over 300 students enrolled in graduate and professional programs. No other program can claim the successes of this program. President Freeman Hrabouski and Dr. Michael Summers, two major players in this program, can certainly take the credit for nurturing the achievements of many underrepresented scientists.

This past year, the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology presented Hrabowski and Summers with the annual Ruth Kirschstein Diversity in Science Award. This award was established in 2011 to “honor an outstanding scientist who has shown a strong commitment to the encouragement of under-represented minorities to enter the scientific enterprise and/or to the effective mentorship of those within it.” The award was presented to Dr. Summers at the society’s annual meeting in San Diego, CA on April 28 where Kalamazoo College students Virginia Greenberger, Amanda Bolles, and Rina Fujiwara had an opportunity to interview Dr. Summers and ask him about his motivation and life-long passion for the education of underrepresented students in STEM. Here is the interview with Dr. Michael Summers.

Standing Our Ground

By Regina Stevens-Truss, Contributing Editor, Science and Social Justice

When did we lose our humanity and accept circumstances in which we are allowed to say, “I have a right to be here and to prove that I’m going to shoot you”?  As I ponder on the multitude of “stand your ground” laws that have been enacted in states across the country, I agree, in one sense, that we all have a right to be wherever we want to be. In fact, the Declaration of Independence gives all Americans the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” After all, this is the United States of America, the welcoming land, is it not? What I disagree with is this:

“The law removes a person’s duty to retreat before using deadly force against another in any place he has the legal right to be – so long as he reasonably believed he or someone else faced imminent death or great bodily harm.”

But if we all step back and think about this law, it suggests that retreating is equivalent to cowardice, which is ridiculous. When one is faced with a life or death situation, retreating can be the wise and brave thing to do.

Okay, so I can imagine what you might be thinking right about now: “not another piece on Florida’s stand your ground cases.” But rest assured, what I actually want to suggest is that there are other important issues we should stand our ground on: education, health, and climate change. With so many pressing issues of life and death in the world today, perhaps if laws existed that prevented us from ignoring people’s needs, we would be better off.