BE STEM Center
A Local Network With Global Impact

Broadening Equity in STEM Center

Our Vision

The BE STEM Center will build the first national alliance of precollege STEM programs to increase college enrollment for minoritized students.

BE STEM was created to support the work of the University’s NSF INCLUDES team.  The INCLUDES team was awarded $10 million from the National Science Foundation (NSF) as an elite Alliance Award to conduct this work. 

BE STEM is the lead organization in this Alliance. BE STEM will form a national network of precollege STEM programs and an evidence-based pathway for University admissions – precollege STEM program accreditation. Given the high enrollment of students from underrepresented groups in precollege STEM programs, the Alliance endeavors to broaden participation in STEM by maximizing college access and STEM outcomes in higher education and beyond.

The BE STEM Center will build a local network to support University of Pittsburgh STEM students.

The BE STEM Center will leverage the expertise already established at the University of Pittsburgh through programs such as BRIDGES, RISE, Student Support Services (SSS),WiCStart, and other initiatives on campus to connect people and resources centered on broadening equity, increasing diversity, broader impacts, and supporting minoritized students in STEM disciplines.

This effort will be focused on utilizing research-based practices to provide comprehensive support for racially and ethnically underrepresented students enrolled in STEM disciplines. 

This center will strengthen the support available to University of Pittsburgh students and will eventually expand to become a local network that connects with other universities and colleges in the Greater Pittsburgh area. 

BE STEM Center Leadership Group Photo

BE STEM Center team from left to right: Mackenzie Ball, School of Computing and Information; Lori Ann Delale O’Connor, Center for Urban Education; Jennifer Iriti, Learning Research and Development Center (LRDC); David Boone, School of Medicine and UPMC Hillman Cancer Center Academy; Alison Slinskey Legg, Department of Biological Sciences, Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences; Alaine Allen, Swanson School of Engineering; and Rebecca Gonda, Department of Biological Sciences, Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences.

The BE STEM Center will support
University faculty and staff in broadening participation efforts and funding applications.

The center will support Pitt faculty and staff in the design and implementation of grant-funded broadening participation initiatives, and by further connecting Pitt with local and regional organizations working to improve issues around equity and access in education. 

At an increasing rate, external funding agencies are requiring demonstration that academic work provides a broader service to society. 

The National Science Foundation, for example, weighs broader impacts and intellectual merit equally in merit review. 


Student Success

Taylor Robinson

Communication Rhetoric Major and Statistics minor, Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences - Class of 2021 - University of Pittsburgh

First-Year MPH Candidate at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, Department of Epidemiology

“The University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI) was my first introduction to biomedical research.

Through this program I was given the unique opportunity to learn from some of the best researchers in Pittsburgh, to have hands-on experience in the wet-lab as a high-school student, and to form connections with other rising scientists from many backgrounds who also have a passion for STEM.

As a result of my exposure to research from UPCI, now called the Hillman Academy, I was more prepared for benchwork science and science courses in college.

I gained research and interpersonal skills that are transferable across several disciplines, and I became more competitive for prestigious undergraduate research programs like the Doris Duke Undergraduate Internship and the Amgen-NIH Internship.

The Hillman Academy serves as a platform for underrepresented students to envision themselves as future researchers and to take the first steps towards a professional research career.”

Picture of Student Samuel Copeland

Samuel Copeland

Civil Engineering Major and Africana Studies Minor - Class of 2022 - Swanson School of Engineering, Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences - University of Pittsburgh

“The INVESTING NOW program and UPMC Hillman Cancer Center Academy provide a deep exposure to research and graduate school as a high school student. I learned about Hillman Academy’s medical research opportunity after experiencing a summer research experience as an INVESTING NOW participant. It was these experiences that served as the foundation to my journey to become a full professor.”

Picture of Student Dara Mendez

Dara D. Mendez, PhD, MPH

Assistant Professor, Graduate School of Public Health, Department of Epidemiology - University of Pittsburgh

“I am a graduate of INVESTING NOW, which was instrumental in exposing me to research and science opportunities, especially the Saturday Science Academy. I also was supported by INVESTING NOW to pursue science scholarships that made it possible for me to attend Spelman College where I completed a BA in Sociology / Anthropology. I continued to complete graduate degrees in Maternal and Child Health Epidemiology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. “

Picture of Student Issam Abushaban

Issam Abushaban

Computer Engineering Major - Class of 2022 - Swanson School of Engineering - University of Pittsburgh

“The Gene Team High School to College (H2C) program showed me applications in microbiology that applied to the real world all while providing me mentorship and networking opportunities that still benefit me today.”