Expanding Your Horizons STEM conference goes on with changes

Atmospheric scientist Jessica Osuna (

Atmospheric scientist Jessica Osuna.

The San Joaquin Expanding Your Horizons (SJEYH) conference for girls interested in studying STEM—science, technology, engineering and math—will go through program changes this year due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, but there will be plenty of hands-on learning experience, plus a keynote speech from a scientist who worked on a Mars rover project.

The conference for girls in grades 6–12 will be virtual this year, from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Sept. 19. Registration is only $10 and is open to 250 girls. To register and for more information, visit When registering for the conference, attendees also must select a pick-up time on Sept. 12 to pick up their workshop materials, shirt and swag bag. The gear will be distributed in “drive-through” fashion in Pacific Lot 1 on Larry Heller Drive next to the university tennis courts.

For more than a quarter century, the SJEYH conference has focused on creating more opportunities for girls and women in STEM-related fields.

“The School of Engineering and Computer Science is very proud to have been able to sponsor this program for future female engineers and scientists for 29 years,” Dean Steven Howell said. “While we will miss hosting these young women on campus this year, we are happy that the program will continue in a modified venue during these unprecedented times and look forward to having students return in person next year.”

“Changes had to be made, but we still will have a strong turnout and an outstanding program,” added Patricia Lopez, diversity coordinator for the School of Engineering and Computer Science (SOECS). “We have a great lineup of activities and learning opportunities, as well as a wonderful keynote speaker.”

Keynote speaker Jessica Osuna is an atmospheric scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory—a longtime sponsor of the conference along with the SOECS. In July, she worked alongside NASA and U.S. Air Force scientists on the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover launch.

“Like many children, I wanted to be an astronaut when I grew up. Then I began college majoring in aerospace engineering, so working on this project has been a wonderful experience and will probably be as close as I get to space,” Osuna said in a Lawrence Livermore Laboratories press release. “I especially enjoyed working on an interagency team with NASA and the U.S. Air Force 45th Space Wing Weather Squadron through the process of preparing for launch.”

One week after the conference, there will be an additional opportunity for parents. On Sept. 26, a virtual discussion will provide information about financial aid and applying to universities.