Students Dami Okeyoyin and Jisa Salim report back after attending the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minoritized Scientists (ABRCMS) 2023 in Phoenix, Arizona, in November with support from Applied Microbiology International’s grant.

Dami Okeyoyin says:

I had the privilege of attending the ABRCMS conference in Phoenix, Arizona, USA, in November as a Graduate Student pursuing my PhD under the mentorship of Professor Emmanuel Adukwu. His encouragement and advocacy for sharing research on such a diverse platform were instrumental in my decision to participate. Professor Adukwu introduced me to the conference at the onset of my PhD journey, emphasizing its profound impact on his career as a black man in science.


I attended the conference virtually in 2022 and attending virtually allowed me to immerse myself in the dynamic research landscape of Biomedical science, despite being online. This experience solidified my determination to attend the conference in person, not only to present my research but also to connect with other researchers and be in a supportive environment where I felt valued and understood.

During the conference, I engaged in various capacities: as a biomedical research PhD student, a Judge, and a representative of AMI. Participating in the graduate symposium preceding the main conference and staying for the entirety of the conference greatly enriched my experience.

Overall, my participation in ABRCMS was multifaceted, providing invaluable opportunities for networking, learning, and personal growth. It reinforced the importance of representation and support for underrepresented groups in STEM fields.

As a graduate student

As a graduate student, attending the graduate symposium at ABRCMS was a transformative experience. It provided me with invaluable insights into the diverse research being conducted by PhD and graduate students across America and internationally. Delivering a talk on my research, focusing on the impact of commercially available herbal teas on the human microbiota, was one of the highlights of my participation. Being selected as one of the 10% of abstracts for oral presentations was a significant honour, and receiving positive feedback further validated my work.


I was also able to network with fellow graduate students, which allowed me to forge connections and gain perspectives from peers in similar academic pursuits. Meeting Black female professors who shared their experiences and triumphs in overcoming challenges was both inspiring and empowering.

Throughout the conference, I attended several informative sessions, with my favourite being on the importance of showing up as our authentic selves. This session resonated deeply with me, emphasizing the significance of embracing our identities and fostering confidence in our individual journeys. Overall, my participation in ABRCMS provided me with invaluable learning opportunities and reinforced the importance of authenticity and representation in academia.

As a Judge

I seized the opportunity to contribute further to the ABRCMS conference by volunteering to join the committee of Judges. In this role, I had the privilege of evaluating nine undergraduate posters in Social, Behavioural Sciences, and Public Health. It was inspiring to witness the dynamic research being conducted by these undergraduate students, supported by their supervisors. Engaging with their work provided me with valuable insights into the next generation of researchers and reinforced the importance of mentorship and support in academic endeavours.

As a representative of Applied Microbiology International (AMI)

At the conference, which boasted more than 5,600 participants, I had the honour of representing AMI. I engaged with fellow students at the stand and beyond, discussing the organization’s mission, and highlighting the diversity of the research landscape supported by AMI. Drawing from my previous experience presenting at an AMI conference, I shared insights with other PhD students, underscoring the wide array of opportunities available to aspiring researchers.


In conclusion, my participation in ABRCMS 2023 was profoundly validating and unforgettable. It was a platform where I could share, connect, and learn from fellow passionate researchers. Contributing to the conference space and enriching the experiences of others like me was immensely fulfilling. I am grateful for the privilege of attending this conference and strongly advocate for similar opportunities to be replicated in the UK. Providing students from minoritized backgrounds with comparable experiences will undoubtedly enhance their engagement with STEM fields.

Jisa Salim says:

The AMI Scientific Scholarship Abstract Grant enabled me to participate in and present my poster at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minoritized Students (ABRCMS) in Phoenix, Arizona. My introduction to this conference came through my supervisor, who has previously attended ABRCMS. He emphasised the profound impact the conference has had on his career as a researcher from an ethnic minority background, motivating me to submit an application for a poster presentation.

Jisa Salim

This conference has been pivotal in shaping my career trajectory. It provided me with invaluable networking opportunities, connecting me with students and faculty from universities across the USA. Through engaging with fellow scientists, I expanded my horizons to diverse disciplines, techniques, and scientific realms previously unfamiliar to me.

As an MRes student from UWE Bristol, investigating the anti-biofilm effects of natural compounds against Acinetobacter baumannii, this conference serves as a nurturing environment that fosters innovative thinking. Interacting with fellow researchers in my field has sparked insightful discussions, offering fresh perspectives on refining and executing my research methodology. Moreover, I received significant guidance on refining my CV, application forms, and personal statements from seasoned researchers.

Sense of belonging

Encountering other women from similar ethnic backgrounds excelling in various scientific disciplines, particularly in Microbiology, was incredibly inspiring and instilled in me a profound sense of belonging in the scientific community. Additionally, engaging with career exhibitors exposed me to a plethora of opportunities, both within academia and industry, showcasing alternative career paths that utilise the skill sets honed in the laboratory.

In essence, my participation in ABRCMS not only allowed me to feel represented in the scientific community but also facilitated international networking and collaboration opportunities. Replicating a similar conference format in the UK would undoubtedly provide scientists from diverse backgrounds with recognition, networking avenues, and career-building opportunities crucial for their professional development.