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Neuroscience Major Starts oSTEM Chapter at Ursinus to Support LGBTQ Students

Ursinus has joined the 100+ colleges and universities nationwide hosting a chapter of oSTEM (Out in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), a professional association focused on supporting and advancing LGBTQ students in STEM fields.

Jo Bolda ’22, a neuroscience major from Richmond, Va., first learned of oSTEM from a banner he spotted while visiting Virginia Commonwealth University. After researching the nonprofit, he felt strongly that oSTEM would benefit him as a student. He gauged interest among other Ursinus students, and found they agreed, so he set out to start a chapter on campus.

In October, he reached out to STEM faculty on campus for assistance in getting the chapter off the ground, and Associate Professor of Biology Rebecca Roberts quickly volunteered. By early December—with approval from both Ursinus and oSTEM—the chapter was official.

“Students who are members of the LGBTQ community are less likely to remain in STEM-related fields, and they experience marginalization more frequently while in them,” said Bolda, citing research from the Science Advances journal during a presentation with Emily Crocker ’22 last semester.

On a national level, oSTEM highlights events and resources for career growth for its members, with a particular focus on networking, said Bolda. “Here at Ursinus, I wanted to create a space where students with like mindsets could surround themselves with positive people and opinions,” he said. “I want to meld multiple ideas for a student organization together to incorporate ‘work’ and ‘play.’”

The chapter’s executive board has been busy planning fun activities and events, as well as identifying professional development resources for its members, such as workshops with the Office of Career and Post-Graduate Development; webinars; the Job, Internship and Networking Fair; and speakers who can discuss the topics that are impacting members of the LGBTQ community who are currently in the workforce.

For more information, contact Jo or Emily, and follow the chapter on Instagram @ostem.ursinus.