Sloan Foundation Awards $3 Million for Minority PhDs in STEM Fields

The has announced grants totaling nearly $3 million to the , , and in support of underrepresented minority graduate students in STEM fields.

Under the three-year initiative, each institution will create a University Center of Exemplary Mentoring that will provide scholarships to minority doctoral students in the physical and mathematical sciences and engineering and coordinate a variety of grad student-related activities, including faculty and peer mentoring, research opportunities, workshops and seminars, and professional development. While the grants from the foundation will fund scholarships and stipends, the universities will provide direct support for program activities and the personnel costs associated with running the program.

For its part, MIT aims to double the number of minority Ph.D. students training to become biological, chemical, electrical, or mechanical engineers and computer scientists by, among other things, expanding its Summer Research Program for undergraduates and Converge orientation workshop for entering graduate students. UC San Diego will work to ensure that one of every five applications, offers, and acceptances to its graduate programs in engineering and physical sciences is from or for a minority scholar. And with the goal of doubling the number of applications, offers, and enrollments of underrepresented minority students in STEM fields, UI Urbana-Champaign will add an extensive orientation and an innovative three-tiered mentoring program to its UCEM activities.

"Increasing the diversity of graduate education in the sciences, mathematics, and engineering means getting talented minority candidates into quality Ph.D. programs and helping them succeed once they get there," said Elizabeth S. Boylan, director of the STEM Higher Education program at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. "UCEMs are designed to support graduate students at every point in the graduate study pipeline. Through participation in the MPHD network, faculty and administrators at these highly committed institutions can share the best institutional practices for recruiting and mentoring minority graduate students."