UCLA’s Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science, or SACNAS, has been honored for its work on sustainability.

The UCLA chapter of SACNAS received the 2022 Chapter Award for Outstanding Sustainability at the society’s 2022 reception earlier this fall in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

“I am thrilled that SACNAS at UCLA has received this year’s chapter award for sustainability, their 11th national recognition of excellence in 12 years!” said Tracy Johnson, dean of the division of life sciences in the UCLA College. “It is an incredible organization that has transformed the landscape for scientists from underrepresented populations. The hard work that the UCLA chapter has been doing to promote underrepresented groups in science is helping UCLA to realize our vision of creating a larger, more welcoming, more inclusive community of scientists.”

The organization is dedicated to fostering the success of Chicano/Latino, Native American and other scientists belonging to underrepresented groups by helping students from these groups earn graduate degrees in the sciences, and go on to careers in science and positions of leadership. 

They began the year with the conference SACNAS at UCLA Pachanga, which featured Jonhson, Adriana Galván, professor of psychology and dean of undergraduate education, and Sonia Zárate, senior program lead with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Scientific Mentorship Initiative, as keynote speakers as they welcomed students back from more than a year of virtual programming.

In collaboration with the UCLA RISE Center, the group hosted a mental health workshop focused on stress management facilitated by Andrea Letamendi, interim director of the UCLA RISE Center and the associate director of mental health training, intervention and response for UCLA Residential Life.

Students in the chapter also conducted four outreach events this year targeting K-12 students and the general public. The chapter ran various community building activities such as student lunches, paint and movie nights and plant-a-succulent socials. The chapter even organized nine professional development events, including workshops, student panels, the lunch with professors series, and the scientific excellence through diversity seminar series.

“As a whole, SACNAS deeply benefitted from our chapter’s leadership team and our supporters at UCLA,” said Marisol Arellano, the chapter’s former co-president and current leadership co-president. “Our chapter is passionate to continue to provide underrepresented students with the academic support, professional development opportunities and sense of community they need to strive at UCLA.”