Members of underrepresented minority groups interested in the sciences may have met a stroke of luck.
The Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate is an organization founded in 1998 devoted to helping underrepresented minority groups gain doctorate degrees in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.
A recent analysis of underrepresented minority data from 2000 to 2008 for 66 AGEP institutions indicated that the average annual number of Ph.Ds awarded to underrepresented minorities in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math increased approximately 34 percent.
During this same time period, the average annual number of Ph.Ds awarded to underrepresented minorities in natural sciences and engineering increased approximately 50 percent.
“The goal of AGEP is to increase the number of minority students pursuing advanced study, obtaining doctoral degrees, and entering the professoriate in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines,” said Yolanda George, spokesperson for the American Association for the Advancement of Science, in an e-mail.
AGEP wants to develop programs throughout the nation to include underserved minority groups, she said. These groups should be granted equal opportunities, and AGEP wants to ensure that this happens.
“[AGEP wants to establish] alliances engaged in comprehensive institutional cultural changes that will lead to sustain increases in the conferral of STEM doctoral degrees, significantly exceeding historic levels of performance,” George said.
This increase is in relation to graduate students who are of underserved minority groups.
AGEP has programs throughout the UC system, including at UC Davis.
AGEP is funded by the National Science Foundation, which has allocated a significant amount of resources to the UC system, said Dominique Beaumonte, AGEP director at UC Davis.
“AGEP caters to underserved minorities,” said Beaumonte. “The program is not exclusive to racial minorities, but also women.“
Many of the individuals participating in the AGEP program already have masters degrees, and are looking to further their career in academia, he added.
“A lot of [the individuals] are interested in working as faculty members in the science field,” said Beaumonte. “They are interested in diversifying the faculty pool.“
AGEP is devoted to increasing diversity in the field of science, particularly by helping underserved minority groups attain their goals of becoming faculty members and sharing their knowledge with others, he said.
“We recruit across the country,” said Beaumonte. “We pay for [recruits] to come to campus and meet with a panel of current students.“
AGEP is partnered with the National Science Foundation in the sense that the NSF provides grants and funding to the program, said Jim Wyche, division director at the NSF.
“Over the years, the AGEP program has produced a significant number of underrepresented minority Ph.D’s,” said Wyche.
Each alliance in AGEP has a partner institution, often a science oriented university, which helps them place undergraduates in graduate programs in the field of science, he said. These universities are often considered “feeder institutions.“
“[AGEP’s partners] are an eclectic group of institutions that have partnered together to serve a national need,” said Wyche.
The AGEP programs are a great way to ensure that the United States will look toward the future and use its citizen base for further knowledge in the sciences, he added. Giving opportunities to underrepresented minority groups will provide a larger and more diverse talent pool in the field of science and technology.
CAITLIN COBB can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.