iDigTRIO Biology Career Conference Goes Hybrid for 2022


4 students look at specimens and a microscope at the tabling event.
Joshua Benjamin explains to participants what they are seeing when looking in the microscope at the Subalusky's Lab table during the Resource Fair. 

3 students touring the Invertebrate Zoology collection at the Florida MuseumThe iDigTRIO Biology Career Conference recently took place at the University of Florida (UF) from February 21–March 3, 2022. The iDigTRIO conference is aimed at collegiate and pre-collegiate students associated with TRIO programs around the United States but is open to all undergraduate and high school students as well as student-associated professionals.  

Our in-person activities started on February 21 at the University of Florida and other North Central Florida locales, with career shadowing and mentoring experiences, University of Florida campus tours, Florida Museum tours, and field trips to the campus bat house and local natual areas. We had 54 participants take advantage of the diverse career shadowing options this year including 38 students, 4 non-UF staff members, and 14 mentors. Students spent time in labs, collections, and field sites learning about careers in biology and opportunities in graduate school, all while getting hands-on experiences.

Gabriel Sommarriba showing three conference participants the ropes for ichthyological field work in the Santa Fe River. They are examining their sein net haul. 
Gabriel Sommarriba showing three conference participants the ropes for ichthyological field work in the Santa Fe River. Here they are examining their sein net haul. 

2 students looking into a specimen tray at the Florida MuseumOn February 23, we hosted an afternoon Resource Fair that attracted 72 participants including 18 local organizations that shared their resources and opportunities related to the biological sciences. After the Resource Fair, we concluded our in-person offerings with a reception attended by 62 participants that included a student poster session, an inspiring welcome from Dr. Michael Bowie, Assistant Dean and Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Florida, refreshments, and ice breaker activities. In total, we had 110 participants from five states and nine institutions join us for the in-person portion of the conference.  Check out some more images from the in-person aspects in the photo album. Thank you to Kristen Grace and Jeff Gage from the Florida Museum and all of the participants who shared photos with us!

Poster session


On February 24, we transitioned to the three-day virtual conference hosted through Zoom, with asynchronous viewing options on Vimeo. We had 159 registrants and 87 synchronous participants joined us from 28 states and eight countries. We had an amazing line-up of speakers this year that covered topics ranging from careers in natural history collections, Indigenous biology, navigating the “hidden rules” of academia, and entrepreneurship in science. We also hosted practical workshops on applying to and funding for college and graduate school. This year, we included a mentorship round table for professionals and a mentoring workshop for students. All sessions were recorded so that these presentations can be accessed later on-line. We also extended the conference to include virtual mentoring sessions where students met with professionals over Zoom to discuss careers, school, and more. We also created an opportunities board for participants to find paid internships and other supported positions. 

A group of participants with their guide, Alnycea Blackwell, pause their alligator searh for a photo during a visit to La Chua Trail. A group of participants with their guide, Alnycea Blackwell, pause their alligator searh for a photo during a visit to La Chua Trail. 

Two participants holding a snake they found on a walk around campus!The mission of the iDigTRIO Conference is to provide opportunities to explore careers and graduate programs in the biological sciences to first generation, limited income, and underrepresented students (Black, Latine/x, Indigenous, other students of color, and students with disabilities). Through intentional programming and networking, we seek to support future leaders in science and build a sense of community for their academic, personal, and professional journeys. iDigTRIO initially came from a collaboration among staff and students from the University of Florida Office of Academic Support (OAS), iDigBio, and the Florida Museum (cofounders are Dekendrick Murray, Molly Phillips, and Adania Flemming). With the aim to be as inclusive and responsive to rapidly changing global and local health concerns as possible, we created a hybrid conference experience with both in-person and virtual offerings. 

We extend a huge “Thank You!” to this year’s presenters, mentors, tablers, facilitators, and participants. We also thank our conference sponsors, including iDigBio, the UF Office of Academic Support, Black in Natural History Museums, UF Biodiversity Institute, and Florida Museum of Natural History, as well as our partners such as Natural Resources Diversity Initiative, the UF Center for Undergraduate Research, and UF McNair Scholars Program. Finally, thank you to our conference planning team!