Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Increasing STEM Diversity with Funding Opportunities

The best way for an institution to promote diversity among the scholars involved in STEM is to put their money where their mouths are. Funding outreach programs, research and educational opportunities, scholarships, and travel to conference is the most effective way to attract and retain a diverse body to STEM. I have been personally fortunate, nay, blessed to have had an ample amount of funding for my graduate education and dissertation research.

In this post I will share the funding resources I am familiar with that are designed to increase access to STEM to students from underrepresented groups.

The National Science Foundation funds the Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) program. AGEP is a network of universities dedicated to increasing the number of underrepresented minorities obtaining graduate degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics by proving multi-year fellowships along with ample funds for research and attending conferences. Much of my doctorate education has been funded by NSF-AGEP.

Ford Foundation Fellowship Program seeks to increase the diversity of the nation’s college and university faculties by increasing their ethnic and racial diversity, to maximize the educational benefits of diversity, and to increase the number of professors who can and will use diversity as a resource for enriching the education of all students. They offer pre-doctoral, dissertation, and post-doctoral fellowships to support scholars with tuition, research funding, and stipend/salary.

The Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) offers fellowships to minorities seeing PhDs in STEM who later intend to become college professors. SREB offers two awards, a pre-doctoral award and a dissertation year award to cover tuition, research funding and a stipend.

The UNCF•Merck Science Initiative awards scholarships and fellowships to African-American students in science and biomedical research. This program provides tuition, research funding, and stipend/salary to its scholars.

State of Missouri Department of Natural Resources – Environmental Education Scholarship Program for students from underrepresented groups pursuing a bachelor’s or master’s degree in an environmental course of study. Applications are due June 1 of each year.

NSF Minority Postdoctoral Research Fellowship – though the National Science Foundation is re-organizing its divisions and awards, there are still providing research grants to postdoctoral candidates. These fellowships support training and research in science, technology, engineering and mathematics

Attending scientific conferences also offer opportunities to recruit promising students to STEM fields. Now, many professional societies offer scholarships to attend these meetings and offer great mentoring and networking opportunities to students.

The Compact for Faculty Diversity is a coalition of organizations such as SREB, NSF-AGEP, and others; each year they host the Institute on Teaching and Mentoring. This four-day conference has become the largest gathering of minority doctoral scholars in the country and provides scholars with the skills necessary to succeed in graduate study and to prepare them for success as faculty members at colleges and universities.

The Animal Behavior Society, my professional society, has long been a champion of diversity at the undergraduate, graduate, and faculty levels. The society offers three types of awards for students to attend its annual international meeting.
1. Charles H. Turner Program covers registration, travel and lodging and hosts a special mentoring workshops for undergraduate participation at the annual Society meetings
2. The Diversity Grant covers registration fees for graduate students attending the annual ABS Meeting, with the goal of broadening the minority and ethnic representation
3. Latin American Travel Awards are intended to encourage greater participation of Latin American researchers in ABS meetings, by helping to defray the costs of international travel, housing and/or meals at meetings.

The Society of Wetland Scientists offers a full travel award to undergraduate students to attend its annual meeting. The Diversity Program Undergraduate Mentoring Awards is in its 7th year and has been well received by the students who have participated. The award represents a great opportunity to participate in a professional meeting and benefit from a formal mentoring program. To attend the June 27 – July 2, 2010 meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah, students must complete an application, due December 4, 2009.

SEEDS (Strategies for Ecology Education, Diversity and Sustainability: Diverse People for a Diverse Science) is an education program of the Ecological Society of America. Its mission is to diversify and advance the profession of ecology through opportunities that stimulate and nurture the interest of underrepresented students. Focused at the undergraduate level, opportunities sponsored by the program include student field trips, undergraduate research fellowships, ESA Annual Meeting travel awards, and campus ecology chapters.

The Dr. John P. Rier Jr. Biology Student Travel Fund provides money to cover travel expenses to students presenting research at professional meetings and for those who need to travel to conduct their research. I have been a recipient of this award twice and these funds come in handy, especially attending expensive international conferences.


dianna.rose83@gmail.com said...

Many institutions limit access to their online information. Making this information available will be an asset to all.

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