New federal grant expands initiative to increase PhD student diversity beyond the life sciences.
With a new $3.3 million federal grant, Brown University will extend to its physical sciences, engineering and mathematics departments a program that has significantly increased the diversity of doctoral students in the life sciences and supported enhanced academic achievement among the students it serves.
The new five-year award from the National Institute for General Medical Sciences, along with new funding from the Office of the Provost at Brown, will more than double the scope of the University’s Initiative to Maximize Student Development (IMSD). The program will now support up to 20 doctoral students a year in 21 programs, instead of just eight students in the Division of Biology and Medicine and the School of Public Health, says Dean of the Graduate School Andrew G. Campbell, PhD, professor of medical science, who has codirected IMSD since its inception a decade ago.
Campbell says that it has become clear that IMSD should expand its portfolio to serve all science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines at Brown because physicists, chemists, engineers, and mathematicians are increasingly making key contributions in biomedical research.
“The scale of Brown’s operation is such that a lot of our programs are collaborative,” Campbell said. “It allows us to be very interdisciplinary. It’s the next most logical step in the maturation of the program.”
Expanding IMSD to cover all STEM fields at Brown is among the specific goals set forth in Pathways to Diversity and Inclusion: An Action Plan for Brown University. Last week the University issued a report of overall progress in the plan’s first year.
Campbell says programs such as IMSD are vital to making the sciences more diverse and inclusive, which in turn will expand the degree to which the nation makes use of its talent in vital areas of knowledge and innovation.
“If you look at US citizens between the ages of 18 and 29, about 62 percent of those individuals are women and people of color,” he says. “We don’t see that representation in the academy, and we don’t see that representation in the sciences. We are underutilizing that segment of our population.”
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