Lanazha Belfield, a fourth-year Molecular Medicine and Translational Science PhD candidate, was recently selected to participate in the Yale Ciencia Academy, which provides doctoral students from underrepresented backgrounds in the life and health sciences with opportunities for mentoring, networking, skills development and contributing to their communities through science outreach.
The program is led by the nonprofit organization Ciencia Puerto Rico (CienciaPR) in collaboration with Yale University. Fellows must apply to be selected to participate in the year-long, mostly virtual program that leverages the CienciaPR community—one of the largest networks of Hispanic/Latinx scientists in the world.
Over the upcoming year, fellows gather once or twice a month for online conversations and workshops with role models and experts who will share advice and insights to help them develop important career planning, mentoring, and scientific and interpersonal communication skills and products. Although all activities are specifically designed to help fellows successfully transition to a postdoc matching their career goals, interests, and values, the skills developed through YCA will continue to serve them at every stage of their scientific career. At the end of the program in June 2022, public health circumstances permitting, the cohort will meet in person on the Yale campus for final workshops and to welcome the next cohort of YCA Fellows.
One of the most innovative aspects of the program is that YCA fellows are guided to design and implement a science outreach project that helps them put into practice transferable skills (e.g., science communication, leadership, etc.) and allows them to connect with a community they care about. This year, YCA will also be launching its first “Advisor Academy,” a learning community comprised of the mentors of the YCA fellows, which will explore ways for research advisors to enhance their mentoring and institutional impact.
The 2021 class is composed of 16 students from 14 institutions throughout North America, selected from 48 applications.