Promoting Diversity in Science: Kinesiology Outreach Efforts Bring Latinx High School Students to Campus for National Biomechanics Day : UMass Amherst

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On April 6, the Kinesiology Department hosted a group of high school juniors to celebrate National Biomechanics Day (NBD) 2022. The students, primarily Black and Latino students from nearby Holyoke High School, were invited on campus to participate in a variety of demonstrations in the field of biomechanics.

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Jonaz Moreno Jaramillo

The department’s efforts were led by doctoral student Jonaz Moreno Jaramillo, co-founder and president of the UMass Amherst Student Chapter of the American Society of Biomechanics (ASB). After hosting the event virtually in 2021, Moreno Jaramillo and his fellow UMass ASB Chapter members were excited to return to an in-person event featuring hands-on demonstrations.

“We provided a bus ride for the 23 participants on our campus as well as a lunch voucher at the campus center and stickers for souvenirs,” says Moreno Jaramillo, who received $1,000 from the Latinx in Biomechanics Outreach Through NBD Grant Program to support Latinx involvement in the day’s activities. “The graduate team gave the students a tour of the campus so that they could discover our school. Many of the participants had never taken a college campus tour. Overall, the award helped us ensure that junior high students had a unique experience at UMass while learning all about biomechanics research. We hope high school students see the potential to enter STEM fields and maybe some of them see UMass as a great option for them to further their education.

An international student from Mexico and a member of the UMass Integrative Locomotion Lab led by Wouter Hoogkamer, Moreno Jaramillo has been instrumental in supporting the department’s and biomechanics field’s efforts to promote scientific diversity. In 2020, he co-founded Latinx in Biomechanix (LiB), an affinity group of the national organization ASB. He was awarded a $5,000 grant to improve the organization and increase its capacity and retention. Since co-founding the group, they’ve hosted six virtual social events for Latinx and her allies, created more than 33 social media posts in the form of member highlights, made connections with five different universities across the United States. States and Brazil and collaborated with the Black Association of Biomechanics and International Women in Biomechanics.

“Jonaz not only excels in his graduate program here in the Department of Kinesiology, but has been instrumental in building and advancing diversity at one of our major scientific organizations (ASB) as well as the outreach to the local secondary school community,” said department head and professor of Kinesiology Richard van Emmerik. “He is exactly the kind of student the department values, making outstanding contributions to a positive climate affecting not only research, teaching and learning, but also community outreach and the future recruitment of a diverse student body and faculty.”

National Biomechanics Day is a worldwide celebration of biomechanics – the field of study that involves the application of mechanical principles in the study of biological systems – which aims to increase awareness and appreciation of biomechanics among high school communities around the world. Resources, including classroom and lab activities, are shared with educators and classes to enhance existing STEM curriculum and raise awareness of different educational and career paths.

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