Guam NSF INCLUDES and EPSCoR welcomes 12 new student researchers

Guam National Science Foundation-Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (Guam NSF EPSCoR) and Guam NSF SEAS Island Alliance INCLUDES programs at the University of Guam welcomed 12 new student researchers and their families at an orientation held at the UOG CLASS Lecture Hall at the start of the year.  

The student researchers will be participating in the 2024 Student Research Experience (SRE) program. This initiative aims to boost the quantity and diversity of students pursuing careers in STEM fields.  

The program is specifically designed for undergraduates who are seeking valuable research opportunities. Out of the 12 student researchers, five are supported by Guam NSF EPSCoR and seven by Guam NSF SEAS Island Alliance INCLUDES. 

The event was also organized to introduce    the new SREs to their faculty mentors who will be working with them in the coming year.  

Emily Wendte, education and workforce development program associate for Guam NSF EPSCoR-Guam Ecosystems Collaboratorium for Corals and Oceans (GECCO) facilitated the family orientation event.  

Wendte emphasized the role of the family and mentors in the SRE program. “It’s important to us to involve the family members of our students as much as possible so that during the student’s year-long journey, family support groups are able to ask their student participants questions about how things are going in order to offer support.”  

“We want family support groups to understand the nature and requirements of the National Science Foundation grant, and that working along with it can ultimately lead to bigger and broader opportunities for the student”, added Wendte.  

The UOG CLASS Lecture Hall erupted with applause from families in attendance as students signed agreements officially entering themselves into the program. 

Wendte said that it is a binding agreement for students to fulfill the expectations and obligations outlined by the grant. This includes maintaining communication with peers and mentors, diligently performing research in labs, participating in fieldwork, and adhering to proper protocols and procedures. 

Among the mentors and students were alumni of the program, sharing advice and experiences with excited newcomers. 

Wendte recognized Brandon Respicio, a program alumnus at the orientation, recalling his journey through the program. Respicio participated in the Summer Math Research Experience (SMRE) and SRE in 2022 and 2023 respectively. 

Respicio’s list of accomplishments includes scholarship awards to attend the 2022 and 2023 Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) National Diversity in STEM (NDiSTEM) conference. He also received recognition for his student poster presentation at the 2023 SACNAS NDiSTEM conference.  

Respicio is currently in his final semester at UOG as a secondary education student majoring in mathematics. He is a first-generation college student.   

Wendte says, “At completion of the program, he really wanted to share what he had accomplished that year with his family. His parents were beaming! They looked just as excited and proud as he did.” 

For Wendte, witnessing the growth of each student as they progressed through the program helps her to understand the significance of the work she continues to do. 

“At the end of the program, when we get to see the fulfillment, pride and joy these students have in what they accomplished—it’s really heartwarming. It’s one of those reminders of why we do what we do,” Wendte said. 

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