What is PERSIST?

PERSIST (PEeRS In STem) is a new group on the Oberlin campus that seeks to foster a supportive network of underrepresented students in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). We want to help these students cultivate their science identity—the feeling that they belong and can be successful in STEM. We also want to connect with the Oberlin community by inviting Oberlin High School students to be a part of this network. This program is currently led by Lisa Ryno, Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Oberlin College.

Who is eligible to be a part of PERSIST?

We are specifically interested in those students who are traditionally and currently underrepresented in STEM. These include students that are persons of color, first-generation, women, LGBTQIA+, and Pell-eligible.

What will we do in PERSIST meetings?

We will form small groups (e.g., one 3rd/4th year, one 1st/2nd year and one Oberlin High School student) that will have the opportunity to both discuss interesting new popular science articles (initially provided by the faculty mentor, Lisa Ryno, and subsequently chosen by the students) and informally socialize/talk about current successes and obstacles, all while enjoying some free snacks. We will also aim to have a community building activity (e.g., spending an afternoon or two working with Oberlin Community Services, tending to the butterfly garden, etc.) during the year.

Students will participate in voluntary surveys about their STEM experience throughout the year, and will have brief monthly check-ins (via online surveys and in person) with the faculty mentor (Lisa Ryno) to ensure the mentoring groups are comfortable and productive.

When will PERSIST begin?

We will have a general information session for PERSIST on Wednesday, October 6 at 6:30 PM. You may join us in person in the Craig Lecture Hall in the Science Center, or attend by Zoom:


Meeting ID: 955 982 924

Beginning in late October 2021, we will meet either in person or via Zoom, depending on the current public health situation, every 3-4 weeks for about an hour during a weekday evening or weekend afternoon, and continue to meet until the end of the academic year (May 2022). Last year, we used polling to determine the best date/time that worked for the majority of participants.

How can I join PERSIST?

You may email Prof. Ryno (lryno (at) oberlin (dot) edu) with a brief paragraph about what science means to you and how you will contribute to the peer-mentoring groups and the PERSIST community. This email will serve as your application to the program, which will be evaluated essentially on a first-come-first-served basis. If you were part of PERSIST last year, simply send Prof. Ryno an email indicating your interest to continue participating in the group.

Who is supporting PERSIST?

PERSIST is funded by the Research Corporation for Science Advancement. The meetings will be facilitated by Lisa Ryno, Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Oberlin College.