NC A&T uses National Science Foundation grants to diversify the STEM workforce

EAST GREENSBORO, NC (November 29, 2022) – Recognizing the need for a student development model that contributes to diversifying the national STEM workforce, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University is implementing a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant. is Preparing future minority Ph.D. Researcher (PFMPR) Bridge Doctoral (BD) Program.

NC A&T received a $1,075,000 grant under the auspices of NSF’s North Carolina Minority Participation STEM Pathways and Research Alliance (NC-LSAMP SPRA). The vision of this scholarship is to create a national model for preparing underrepresented scientists and engineers to pursue PhDs in STEM fields. The goal of the PFMPR Bridge to Doctorate program is to increase the number and quality of STEM graduates from underrepresented populations, with a focus on Ph.D. enrollment and graduation.

In addition to the NSF BD funding period, the University will use a comprehensive initiative to support BD Fellows to provide a foundation to support students’ success in pursuing their Ph.D. in STEM fields. PRMPR aims to attract, retain, and graduate 12 underrepresented Ph.D. Students majoring in STEM are equipped with the career skills and self-reliance necessary to succeed as members of the STEM workforce while contributing.

The project includes a carefully selected combination of proven and promising strategies that reflect evidence from the literature and past achievements of A&T alumni. By implementing and leveraging the effectiveness of the BD program, A&T will contribute to raising awareness of the successful development of researcher identity among underrepresented minorities (URMs) at the graduate level.

“Our approach is to diversify the STEM PhDs in the US, with a particular focus on URM,” said Tonya Smith-Jackson, PhD, Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Principal Investigator (PI) of the program.

“Integration with LSAMP programs and STEM feeder schools will increase enrollment of well-prepared undergraduates entering and graduating from our doctoral programs,” he said. “Culturally reflective instruction fills an important gap in how universities can meet the needs of all doctoral students by advancing retention practices and building social capital.”

BD Fellows will participate in a hands-on learning process developed by NC A&T to increase the number and quality of grant applications, particularly for NSF Graduate Research Grants and other prestigious grants.

“As the largest black university in the nation’s history, NC A&T educates a significant number of URMs at the undergraduate level, providing a tremendous opportunity to initiate, test, and refine a framework that supports students’ transition to doctoral programs,” Clay said. Gloucester, Ph.D., associate director of graduate research and dean of the doctoral college for the program’s co-PI. “We are implementing a model that can be evaluated, improved, and distributed to other LSAMP BD organizations.”

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