A 10-year effort to increase diversity in Brown’s STEM doctoral programs successfully recruited more students and graduated more PhDs from historically underrepresented groups, according to a study in the Journal for STEM Education Research.
The Initiative to Maximize Student Development, launched in the Division of Biology and Medicine in 2008, matches students with mentors and provides research training, career and skills development, and financial support.
The initiative expanded to include physical sciences in 2017. In July, IMSD leaders reported that overall STEM graduate student diversity increased from 19 percent to 26 percent over the program’s first decade, while the proportion of underrepresented students who earned PhDs rose from 4 percent to 14 percent. The national average is 8 percent. Furthermore, all IMSD alumni are working in fields that use their degrees.
“Inequities are what lead to underrepresentation in STEM,” says IMSD codirector Andrew Campbell, PhD, dean of Brown’s Graduate School. “When inequities are eliminated … the success of underrepresented students becomes indistinguishable from the success of their peers.”