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About The Minorities Affairs Committee

A Brief History of the ASCB Minorities Affairs Committee

At the 1980 ASCB Annual Meeting, then-ASCB President William Brinkley met with Winston Anderson to discuss how to increase the number of minority ASCB members. Starting with discretionary grants made on behalf of ASCB Presidents (Marilyn G. Farquhar (1981-82), James D. Jamieson (1982-83), and Morris Karnovisky (1983-84), the soon-to-be Minorities Affairs Committee (MAC) was launched. Encouraged by the interest and contributions of the ASCB to this effort, Anderson provided additional funds from his Howard University/Rockefeller (HUROC) grant to support minority activities at the Annual Meeting. During the formative years of 1985-90, the group received official committee status and became known as the Minorities Affairs Committee (MAC) of the ASCB. The MAC elected George M. Langford as its first chair, who served in that capacity from 1985-90. James Wyche succeeded Langford as chair and it was during Wyche's tenure that the E.E. Just Lecture was established in 1994 with Langford as the first Lecturer. Wyche vacated the chair in 1994 and was succeeded by J.K. Haynes and Donella Wilson in 1995, who served variously as chair and vice chair until succeeded by Lydia Villa-Komaroff in 2005. Anthony DePass became Chair in 2007 and was succeeded by Renato Aguilera in 2010.

According to the ASCB Constitution, the major objectives of the Minorities Affairs Committee are to provide opportunities for underrepresented minorities in the field of cell biology, and to develop careers of minorities in cell biology.

To meet those objectives, the MAC hosts a number of activities around the year:

  • Summer course support for minority students at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) at Woods Hole, MA; and Friday Harbor Laboratories at the University of Washington, Seattle
  • Annual summer lunch for MAC-sponsored MBL students, faculty hosts, and other invited guests
  • Summer Visiting Professors Program for faculty from minority or teaching institutions to spend six-to-eight weeks with ASCB faculty from research institutions on collaborative research
  • Linkage Fellows Program for junior faculty from minority serving institutions to attend the ASCB Annual Meeting, bring students to the Annual Meeting, and participate in professional development activities
  • MAC Exhibit booth at the Society for Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) annual meeting; cash awards provided for cell biology winners
  • MAC Exhibit booth at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS); cash awards provided for cell biology winners
  • ASCB Annual Meeting activities on Saturday and Sunday, including the MAC Mentoring Symposium, the MAC Poster Competition, MAC Awards Lunch, E.E. Just Lecture

Committee Information

The Minorities Affairs Committee (MAC) has as its goal to significantly increase the involvement of underrepresented minority scientists in all aspects of the Society by promoting the professional development and recruiting of minority scientists. Therelatively small size of the pool of scientists with an interest in cell biology requires that the MAC also develop programs for undergraduate and pre-doctoral students to assist them in achieving careers in biomedical research.

A long-range goal of the committee is to contribute to the Nation's effort to increase the number of underrepresented minority scientists. Many MAC activities are supported by a Minority Access to Research Careers grant from the NIGMS, NIH.

Awards and Career Mentoring Luncheon at the ASCB Annual Meeting

Each year the MAC invites ASCB Executives and Councilors to join the MAC in honoring Travel and Poster Awardees at a luncheon that precedes the E. E. Just Lecture at the Annual Meeting.The Luncheon is supported by the Society. In 2003, the MAC introduced table topics, including some of the following subjects: exploring the growing issues of minorities at majority institutions; preparing for graduate school, mentor vs. advisor - what's the difference?; teaching and research at small colleges; application of new technologies in the classroom and their impacts on science-based curriculum; and minority vs. non-citizen minority faculty as MSIs and majority instutions (recruitment, retention, promotion, etc.).

Each table has a sign announcing the discussion topic. No advance sign-up is required for a specific topic, but the Committee asks each participant to decide which topic they are interested in prior to lunch. Table topics are flexible and not all tables followed the topic format allowing an opportunity for discussion of other topics. Minorities Affairs Committee members and meeting attendees serve as table discussion leaders.

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