Celebrating 50 years of SACNAS!


The Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics & Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) is the nation's largest multicultural #STEM diversity organization, and we invite you to join us in our 50th year as we celebrate the transformational impact of our inclusive national network. Our mission embraces a future where STEM reflects the demographics of our country, better equipping the field to solve our world's most pressing problems. Through our members, programs, and partnerships, SACNAS has taken a radical approach to lead with culture and identity as the means to achieve true diversity in STEM. 

The 1970s were a transformative decade in American history, including a newfound focus on cultural and societal issues. A heightened political climate, mixed with the embrace of individualism, gave birth to renewed efforts to find community and shared purpose. The SACNAS story begins at the nexus of cultural expressionism and censorship, catapulting its’ original members on a journey to change the face of science, five decades later. 

SACNAS was founded in 1973. As the story goes, it all started in an elevator, at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). That elevator held just a handful of Native American and Chicano scientists and held the only ones working in the sciences at the time. One joked that “if the elevator crashes, it will wipe out the entire population of Chicano and Native American scientists!”. 

The founders of SACNAS quickly realized how important but difficult their task would be. At that time, advanced science degrees were few and far between in the Hispanic and Native communities.  

The first official, annual meeting of SACNAS was held in Atlantic City, New Jersey on April 19, 1973, in conjunction with the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology meeting.

There were approximately fifty members at the inaugural meeting, supported by the NIH and other funding agencies, with several presenting their scientific work.  

Over 15,000 PhDs in science and engineering were granted in 1975, but only 151 were granted to Hispanics and 13 to Native Americans. 

“We very desperately needed the support of each other, for only we, certainly not our university colleagues, understood the challenge of dealing with the extra baggage that we as underrepresented minorities growing up in this country faced in our professional life,” described Dr. Richard Tapia. “So, Chicano gave me an identity, and SACNAS gave me a Chicano family that greatly enhanced that identity. The guiding theme of SACNAS has always been to put the cause above the individual.” 

Today, true to these beginnings, SACNAS continues to welcome a diverse membership of over 9,000 multicultural and multidisciplinary members, hold national annual meetings and events, and advocate for critical issues related to the intersections between science, culture, and community. Join us at the 50th National Diversity in STEM (NDiSTEM) conference and be a part of history. 


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