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Consortium Aims to Boost Minority Faculty in STEM Fields

Stanford University Ph.D. candidates Jeremy Brown (geophysics) and Rebecca Hernandez (environmental Earth system science).

Four California Universities are working to encourage more minority students to pursue Ph.D.s in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields.

Credit: Stanford University

The University of California, Berkeley, Stanford University, the University of California, Los Angeles, and the California Institute of Technology have formed the California Alliance for Graduate Education and Professoriate, a partnership that aims to solve the problem of having too few minority Ph.D. students in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields.

The group launched the initiative with a $2.2-million U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to provide increased diversity in mathematics, physical science, and computer science. Together, the four schools are creating a new, cross-institutional community of underrepresented minority Ph.D. students, postdoctoral scholars, and faculty members.

The alliance "draws on the strength of the institutions involved and is developing a model for moving the needle in this area," says NSF program director Mark Leddy.

Stanford professor Page Chamberlain also notes "given the importance of faculty in mentoring graduate students, one critical piece for increasing the needed diversity will be to train and promote talented STEM students in science and engineering to move into the professoriate."

The California Alliance plans to create a community of practice to unite underrepresented doctoral students from all four universities who share educational backgrounds. In addition, the alliance will nurture social-professional networks of Ph.D. students, faculty, and research scientists.

From Stanford University
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