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Bemidji State students honor diverse scientists through poster project

A faculty-driven and student-led diversification project at Bemidji State University will result in 17 new vinyl posters lining the walls of Sattgast Hall representing scientists from a variety of backgrounds and specializations.

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Technology, Art and Design Professor Mitch Blessing assists students Jack Ryan, Sam Pinkerton and Breck Henderson with placing a vinyl poster on a wall in Sattgast Hall as part of a project honoring diverse scientists. Contributed.

BEMIDJI — A faculty-driven and student-led diversification project at Bemidji State University will result in 17 new vinyl posters lining the walls of Sattgast Hall representing scientists from a variety of backgrounds and specializations.

Home to BSU’s science programs, Sattgast Hall’s previous portraits represented a selection of the pioneers in the world of science, but they lacked modern representation and the field’s diverse contributors, a release said.

“This project brings in a diverse and much more representative group of scientists who will be showcased within the spaces of Sattgast Hall and who symbolize the diversity we hope to see among our students, faculty and staff,” BSU and Northwest Technical College President Faith Hensrud said in a release.

Cornelia Santos, a former BSU Indigenous Studies professor, first thought to update the portraits, and her idea quickly turned into an interdisciplinary endeavor involving the university’s School of Technology, Art and Design and Niizhoo-gwayakochigewin sustainability program — named for an Ojibwe phrase that means “two ways of doing the right thing in the right way.”

The project officially began in fall 2020 when Niizhoo-gwayakochigewin hired Katelyn Riniker, a 2021 environmental studies graduate, to research scientists of all ethnicities, gender identities, sexual orientations and abilities to be featured in the hallways.

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Once a list was established, Rinkiker started working with the lead project manager Cecilia Clusiau, a 2021 project management graduate, and lead design student Madison Reynolds, a 2021 design graduate, on the project’s next steps.

“I enjoyed having the opportunity to lead a project through collaboration with my classmates and faculty,” Clusiau said in a release. “It was an eye-opening experience for me and I realized how important this project would be to students at BSU.”

Vice President of Academic Affairs and Provost Allen Bedford said inclusive representation is instrumental in student and academic success.

“The portraits and stories about scientists, now gracing the walls in Sattgast Hall, help more of our students see themselves in these roles,” Bedford said in a release. “Students seeing their backgrounds represented among the role models presented here helps students visualize possibilities for themselves that they may not have previously imagined.”

The first installation of new portraits began at the close of the spring 2021 semester and will extend to the end of the spring 2022 semester. The Bemidji community is welcome to visit Sattgast Hall to view the portraits during regular operating hours between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

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A student looks at one of 17 vinyl posters placed on the walls of Sattgast Hall as part of a project honoring diverse scientists. Contributed.

The new Sattgast Hall scientist posters include:

  • Gregory Cajete, author and professor, University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.
  • Karletta Chief, environmental scientist and professor, University of Arizona in Tucson.
  • Charles R. Drew, surgeon and medical researcher
  • Phil Duran, professor of math, physics and science, University of Texas-El Paso.
  • Mohan Dutta, professor and head of the Department of Communications and New Media at the National University of Singapore in Queenstown.
  • Walter Lincoln Hawkins, chemist and engineer, Bell Laboratories.
  • Alma Hayden, chemist, U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
  • John Herrington, astronaut, NASA.
  • Mary Jackson, mathematician and aerospace engineer, National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics.
  • Nancy B. Jackson, chemist, American Chemical Society.
  • Mae Jemison, astronaut, NASA.
  • Katherine Johnson, mathematician, NASA.
  • Henrietta Lacks, mother of the first immortalized human cell line.
  • Robert Henry Lawrence Jr., astronaut, NASA; United States Air Force officer.
  • Barack Obama, political scientist, 44th President of the United States.
  • Condoleezza Rice, political scientist, former United States Secretary of State and National Security Adviser
  • Chantelle Richmond, geographer and professor, Western University in London, Ontario, Canada.
  • Mary Romero, sociologist, Arizona State University.
  • Chandralekha Singh, physicist, Discipline Based Science Education Research Center.
  • Deondre Smiles, geographer and professor, University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada.
  • Alan Turing, computer scientist and father of artificial intelligence, Royal Society of London, England.
  • Dorothy Vaughan, mathematician, National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics and NASA.
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