The STEM Incubator is a new cohort program designed to support and train students who are underrepresented in STEM disciplines, including Black, Latinx, Indigenous, first-generation and low-income students. The program introduces students to current research topics in chemistry, biology and statistics; teaches and develops fundamental research skills; builds relationships between students and the campus community; and enables students to be creative in their problem-solving.

Our Learning Goals

Content

Expose students to current research topics in the fields of chemistry, biology and data science, with emphasis on interdisciplinary research topics including drug delivery, nanotechnology and biostatistics.

Relationships

Forge strong relationships between students and professors who can serve as mentors. Introduce students to Amherst staff that can support them throughout their time at the College and alumni working in scientific fields.

Research Skills

Introduce students to fundamental research skills including how to find and cite scientific literature using databases and reference management tools, experimental design, hypothesis testing and science communication.

Creativity

Allow students to be creative in their problem-solving and experimental design including proposing new experiments and technologies based on their research.

Summer 2020 Pilot Program

By the Numbers

4 Alumni Speakers

6 Weeks

14 Faculty and Staff Partners

18 Rising Sophomores

The STEM Incubator was piloted over six weeks in summer 2020 with 18 rising sophomores led by three faculty co-leaders: Brittney Bailey, assistant professor of statistics; Christopher Durr, assistant professor of chemistry; and Marc Edwards, assistant professor of biology.

Even with the challenge of adapting the proposed in-person program to a digital format, the pilot was a resounding success. Among other gains, it:

  • increased students’ reported sense of confidence and belonging;
  • increased students’ interest in participating in STEM research at Amherst and enhanced their perception of the accessibility of such opportunities;
  • expanded students’ awareness of the range of potential STEM professions; and
  • provided opportunities for field-testing and adapting novel approaches to teaching introductory STEM-specific skills in mathematics, statistics and the physical and life sciences.

Program Features

  • Small-group “homeroom” model of six students and a lead faculty
  • Friday Colloquium with invited alumni speakers
  • Incubator Symposium, a capstone experience in which project groups present their work to a larger audience

The Incubator Program: Hatching the STEM Scientists of the Future

A lab in the Amherst College Science Center

Amherst News | October 2020

Read how the STEM Incubator initiative aims to provide students from underrepresented backgrounds with the tools to succeed in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Read the Story

Meet the Students

A selfie photo of Fareeda Adejumo Fareeda Adejumo • Texas

What surprised you about being part of the Incubator program?

What surprised me the most about the incubator was how fun it was. There are just so many enjoyable moments and it reminded me of why I loved STEM in the first place. There is a different sense of enjoyment when you are learning just to learn without the fear of traditional assessments such as test and quizzes.


A selfie photo of Diego Carias Diego Carias • Los Angeles, CA

What surprised you about being part of the Incubator program?

I was surprised at the level of reassurance I received from my professors despite my lack of experience in research. The environment they were able to create was extremely valuable to me as someone who is a FLI student. Additionally, the overall programming was incredibly educational and inspiring. This came from the interesting work we were able to do and also the speakers brought by the team.

What would you want prospective students to know about the Incubator program?

Work hard and do your readings! The more prepared you are, the more you can get out of the program!

What was a meaningful takeaway you discovered from being in the Incubator program?

Anybody is capable of embarking on something as daunting as research.


EJ Collins, interviewed by Sterling Kee ’23

What aspects of the STEM Incubator program were meaningful to you?

Sam Young, interviewed by Claire Hawthorne ’21

What advice would you give to students interested in the STEM Incubator program?


A selfie photo of Maria Andrade Maria Andrade • Massachusetts

What was a meaningful takeaway you discovered from being in the Incubator program?

The Incubator program was truly an unforgettable experience. I am extremely grateful to have been part of something so special. The reason why I decided to participate in the program was because of my passion for STEM. The Incubator program, however, showed me the true extent of this passion. A beauty about being in the STEM field is that there is always something new to learn. I learned so much in the Incubator, things that I would have otherwise believed were too complex for me to comprehend. At the end of the program, I felt confident about my ability to excel in this field. Most importantly, I know I have an amazing support system in my peers and the instructors. A very special thank you to Professors Bailey, Durr and Edwards for making this experience undeniably, a success.


A selfie photo of Sara Omer Sara Omer • North Carolina

What surprised you about being part of the Incubator program?

Having to be on zoom for 6 weeks, I was surprised how long I was motivated for. I was really enjoying the different weekly topics which made the 6 weeks fly by.

What would you want prospective students to know about the Incubator program?

Take advantage of the safe space that has been created for you to learn the basics of research before applying to labs! It will truly help you gain confidence in yourself and motivate you to plan out the rest of your college experience. Also get to know the faculty and don't be afraid to reach out to them once the program is over.

What was a meaningful takeaway you discovered from being in the Incubator program?

The biggest takeaway I had after the program concluded was that I should be confident in my abilities which will only improve! Also, that the path to where I want to end up is not a clear one which is okay!


Jorge Roads • Texas

What surprised you about being part of the Incubator program?

I always thought that STEM was about meticulously following the steps of previous scientists and sticking to the textbook, but the professors who led the incubator encouraged creative thinking and cleverness to engage in scientific thought, something I’d never thought I’d be able to do.


2020 Incubator Symposium

September 2020

Three students presenting their 2020 Incubator research developing an app called “Going Viral” that could be used for communities to help combat COVID-19.
Transcript