The American Chemical Society has selected six universities to be either ACS Bridge sites or partner institutions in the ACS Bridge Program, with aims to increase the number of chemical science PhDs awarded to underrepresented minority students.
The ACS program, supported by a $2.3 million grant from the National Science Foundation, is part of the Inclusive Graduate Education Network, a national alliance of five scientific societies to increase the participation of women and underrepresented minorities in graduate education in the physical sciences. The alliance is being led by the American Physical Society.
Georgia Institute of Technology’s School of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering and the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s Department of Chemistry were selected as ACS Bridge Sites and will receive funding from ACS to assist in the establishment of programs to support underrepresented minority students working toward an advanced degree in the chemical sciences.
“The fact is that the demographics of PhD chemists and chemical engineers don’t match the demographics of the US at large. As a public university, we have a responsibility to change that,” says Carson Meredith of Georgia Tech, who codirects the school’s bridge site with Martha Grover. “Our ultimate goal is to spend the 2 years of a master’s program helping bridge any gaps between the student’s undergraduate preparation and what is expected to enter a PhD program.”
Robert Hamers, who directs the ACS Bridge Site at the University of Wisconsin–Madison with Desiree Bates, says the UW–Madison program will include, among other things, intensive mentoring by other students and by faculty, individualized classwork, and research experience leading to an MS degree. “Having a broad base of support from the existing faculty and students is really essential, as it means that bridge students have many people to interact with and have many choices of research opportunities,” Hamers says.
Four additional universities were selected to be partner departments in the Bridge Program. They include the chemistry departments at Ohio State University, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and Indiana University, as well as the chemical engineering department at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.
ACS will help its partner institutions develop resources and programs for underrepresented minority students to be successful in graduate school. Students can apply for ACS Bridge Program funding to attend scientific conferences such as the ACS national meeting and the annual meeting of the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers. For more information, visit www.acs.org/bridge.