Diversity Initiatives in the UAB Graduate School
The McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program is designed to increase the number of low-income first-generation college students and minorities who complete doctoral programs in science and engineering. The program is offered by the UAB Graduate School in collaboration with the Division of Student Affairs and the Student Support Services (TRIO) Program. Faculty from numerous graduate programs in the biological sciences, the physical sciences, and engineering serve as mentors for qualified undergraduate students who have the potential for success at the doctoral level. Through research internships, enrichment opportunities, academic and social support programs, special programs in scientific communication, and specific assistance in achieving graduate school admissions, the project increases college graduation rates and success in graduate education by addressing identified student needs. The program includes measures to evaluate the success of the project in addressing and achieving six specific, measurable objectives.
The Post-Baccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP) Awards encourage underrepresented minorities who hold a recent baccalaureate degree in a biomedically relevant science to pursue a research doctorate. PREP scholars work as apprentice scientists in a preceptor's laboratory and participate in student development and education activities. This program strengthens the research skills and competitiveness of participants so that they are better prepared to pursue a graduate degree while also stimulating them to have an interest in addressing the health problems that disproportionately affect minorities and the medically underserved in the United States. The Graduate School has received funding for a new PREP program at UAB. The funding term for the grant started on June 1, 2009. To identify potential participants in the program we have contacted students from underrepresented groups who had recently applied for enrollment in one of the bioscience training programs at UAB, but were unsuccessful in gaining admission. One applicant to the program has already been offered a PREP grant supported fellowship and has accepted. Another potential pool of applicants from which to draw is our own McNair scholars and McNair scholars at other institutions. We now have in place stepwise support for qualifying students who are in their junior or senior year of their undergraduate education (McNair), as well as for students who have completed their baccalaureate degrees but wish to obtain additional research experience before entering a graduate program in a STEM discipline (PREP). We anticipate that a subset of PREP scholars will choose to apply to and enroll in UAB graduate programs.
NIH Institutional Research and Career Development Award (IRACDA) grant. This is a new grant which will be funded for the first time in late summer 2009. IRACDA combines a traditional mentored postdoctoral research experience with an opportunity to develop teaching skills through mentored assignments at a minority-serving institution. The program is expected to facilitate the progress of postdoctoral candidates toward research and teaching careers in academia. Other goals are to provide a resource to motivate the next generation of scientists at minority-serving institutions, and to promote linkages between research-intensive institutions and minority-serving institutions that can lead to further collaborations in research and teaching. This grant is directed toward support of postdoctoral trainees, and will be administered predominantly through the UAB Office of Postdoctoral Education which reports to the Graduate School. However, even though the grant does not support graduate students, the interactions of undergraduates at the minority institutions with the IRACDA postdocs who teach there might inspire these students to go on to graduate school after receiving their bachelor’s degrees. From this perspective the IRACDA grant might be considered to be a potential source of recruitment of minority graduate students.