Fostering Opportunities & Relationships in Science Education (FORSE)

I work with the Minnesota Academy of Sciences on the program FORSE to increase the participation of underrepresented groups in STEM. As part of this program, I work as a professional mentor and site coordinator at Bdote Learning School (a local Dakota and Ojibwe immersion learning school) to help students develop, conduct, and report novel science fair projects. I also serve on the Scientific Review Committee for middle school science fair projects and a science fair judge. Through this process, students develop valuable research, writing, and presentation skills. Success in science fairs qualifies students for over $17,000 in scholarship money and provides invaluable networking opportunities.

I prioritize outreach (engaging with the public to increase science accessibility) and inreach (tackling issues of inequity in the department and field). Here are a few of the initiatives I am involved with:

Biomimicry Outreach RA

In collaboration with the University of Minnesota and Lichen Labs, I have been working as a research assistant on a biomimicry outreach project in Fall 2019. This program introduces 7th grade life sciences students to micro and macroevolutionary concepts through specimen collection, adaptation analysis, and microscopy work. I coordinate with classrooms around the country and image student specimens under a light and scanning electron microscope. Then, I do virtual outreach sessions with the students, showing them their samples under both microscopes in live time and describing the micro and macroevolutionary adaptations in each. See my media page for some of the images I've taken!

Feel free to contact me if you are interested in any of these projects. I am also involved with the local science outreach initiative InSciEd Out, which introduces elementary-age children to diverse scientists and concepts, and Market Science. In my department, I also serve on the planning committee for an initiative called Broadening Representation and Equity with Science (BREWS) Through this initiative, we host monthly speaker-led discussions about inequity in the field. I am also a direct service advocate at the Aurora Center, the University of Minnesota's sexual assault advocacy center. In this role, I am a first responder in calls to the Aurora crisis hotline, connecting people with resources and accompanying survivors to the hospital and police station.

Graduate Students of Color Alliance (GSOCA)

I serve on the executive board for the Graduate Students of Color Alliance at the University of Minnesota. We promote community building and advocacy as a way of navigating the hurdles associated with being students of color. Our programming includes community service, a dialogue series, skill-building workshops, advocating against discriminatory policies, and celebrating our colleagues' accomplishments through their graduate degrees.

© 2018-2019 MOUNICA KOTA

All rights reserved. Please contact prior to reusing any images or content.