UGA is among the first universities in the nation to participate in a new National Science Foundation program aimed at broadening participation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines.
The university has been named a recipient of two grants through NSF INCLUDES (Inclusion across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering and Science), a new program with a goal of increasing the number of individuals from underserved groups in the science and engineering workforce to sustain U.S. leadership in those disciplines.
The funding for the first grant enables UGA’s Graduate School to lead an alliance with partners at three historically black universities, Fort Valley State University, Clark Atlanta University and Savannah State University, as well as Florida International University, which is categorized as a Hispanic-serving institution. The program will include an undergraduate exchange program, online learning tools and intervention programs that aim to broaden the pipeline of students interested in pursuing graduate education in science, technology,engineering and mathematics.
“This award will allow UGA to perform fundamental research to identify barriers that limit participation of underserved individuals in STEM disciplines,” said Graduate School Dean Suzanne Barbour, the principal investigator of the grant. “Given the changing demographics of our nation, engagement of such individuals is essential to ensure that the U.S. remains the global leader in STEM research.”
UGA received a second INCLUDES grant aimed at preparing graduate students who plan to pursue faculty positions to promote the success of underrepresented undergraduate students in undergraduate STEM fields. And for the past decade, the NSF-funded Peach State Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation at UGA has helped increase minority enrollment in STEM fields at the undergraduate level.
“The Peach State LSAMP grant has aided the University of Georgia in strengthening and growing the pipeline of underrepresented students who are successfully completing degrees in STEM,” said Michelle Garfield Cook, associate provost for institutional diversity. “The INCLUDES grants will enable us to build upon and expand the institution’s contribution to broadening participation in science, technology, engineering and math.”
In addition, UGA and eight other institutions will work together on a study funded by a $2 million grant from NSF’s Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate. The partnership will seek to enhance the academic career pathways of historically underrepresented doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows in STEM and STEM education research fields through the implementation of evidence-based models and practices across multiple universities.
Provost Pamela Whitten said that the three recent NSF grants the university has received are part of a broader effort to make UGA the institution of choice for the world’s most promising graduate students. The three-pronged initiative to elevate graduate education includes new funding opportunities, an emphasis on creating interdisciplinary programs and expanded professional development opportunities.
“The advanced knowledge and skills that graduate education provides are vital in today’s innovation economy,” she said. “STEM fields in particular have seen significant growth at UGA, and the support of the National Science Foundation is helping accelerate that trend.”