Doctoral student Sierra Kaufman was selected as part of the fourth cohort of students in the Lighting the Pathway to Faculty Careers for Natives in STEM from the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES). Kaufman is a member of the Shinnecock Nation, a small tribe on Long Island. At Brown she studies in the Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences program and is also a Presidential Fellow.
"This fellowship is important to me because it offers support and mentoring sensitive to the issues relevant to Native Americans. My short term goal is to become a capable and competitive applicant for future academic positions and in the long term, to be able to give back by mentoring young members of a diverse STEM community," says Kaufman.
She will receive a stipend for two years and travel funding to attend the AISES National Conference and Leadership Summit in Denver. At the conference, Kaufman will be assigned a Native STEM faculty mentor and will have the opportunity to engage with the active community of Native STEM researchers.
"I am now a part of a more connected network with mentors who have faced many of the hurdles that I am likely to encounter on my journey to become a faculty member. While networking at conferences in my field may enable me to meet a small subset of people who share my very specific interests, I believe being part of a cohort of people with both broadly similar backgrounds and goals will offer a different, enriching, and valuable experience which will help me grow and succeed," says Kaufman.
AISES was awarded a 5-year NSF grant to create this program with the goal of increasing the representation of American Indians, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiians in STEM faculty positions at universities and tribal colleges across the country. The program aims to create an intergenerational community of students and faculty and to provide students with valuable academic and professional support, travel funding, and educational, research, fellowship, and internship opportunities.