UA SRP Investigator Receives NSF Bridge to Doctorate Grant for Underrepresented Minorities in STEM Fields

The University of Arizona Superfund Research Program (UA SRP) congratulates Dr. Jim Field, assistant dean of engineering and UA SRP investigator, on the award of a $1,068,000 National Science Foundation (NSF) Bridge to Doctorate Grant for underrepresented minority (URM) students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. The grant, awarded in August 2016, is part of Arizona State University’s Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) program of which the University of Arizona (UA) is a participating member.

This grant was built upon the foundation and is a legacy that continues previous efforts initiated by the Maria Teresa Velez, Associate Dean of the UA Graduate College, who passed away earlier this year. Dr. Velez was a champion of graduate education and is credited with increasing the diversification of master’s and doctoral programs at the UA.

As background, Hispanic/Latino, Black/African American and Native Americans, collectively known as URM, obtain doctoral degrees (PhD) in low numbers despite the fact that they represent almost one-third of the U.S. population. For example, in academic year 2012/2013, only 9.7% of all domestic STEM PhD were conferred to URM. To counteract this problem, federal agencies and private foundations have developed programs to support URM students in STEM doctoral programs. Among these is the NSF program Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation - Bridge to Doctorate (LSAMP BD) focused on preparing cohorts of Master of Science (MS) students to enter and succeed in STEM doctoral programs.

The main objective of this project is to recruit and retain a cohort of twelve URM-STEM master’s students and prepare them to succeed in STEM PhD programs including coaching them to be competitive for national fellowships and research assistantships. Starting on September 1, 2016, twelve MS students will receive a $32,000 fellowship/year over two years plus tuition.