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AAAS Awarded NSF Grant of Nearly $1 Million to Organize HBCU Conferences
The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded AAAS Education and Human Resources a grant of $973,572 to organize and co-sponsor the 2007, 2008, and 2009 conferences for awardees of the NSF’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities Undergraduate Program.
The eight-year-old NSF program—known as HBCU-UP—provides funds to the schools as part of an effort to broaden participation in the nation’s science, technology, engineering, and mathematics workforce and professoriate. The annual conferences feature an array of workshops, research presentation sessions and recruitment activities, and are expected to draw about 800 people a year—more than half of them students.
“We have seen a real blossoming of the number of students involved who want to present their research,” said Camille A. McKayle, NSF’s program officer for HBCU-UP. “We thought an organization such as AAAS, with its background, its commitment and mission, was really a good fit.”
Under terms of the grant, AAAS will organize, manage, and co-sponsor the annual fall meetings for HBCU-UP. Yolanda George, deputy director of Education and Human Resources (EHR) at AAAS, said the goal would be to give students, faculty, and others who attend the meeting a valuable experience rich with practical applications.
“At AAAS, one of our major efforts is to increase the participation of underrepresented groups in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) at the highest levels,” George said. “As a professional society, with that mission, we’re well-positioned to play this role. And we’re very experienced at running polished, professional, multi-disciplinary meetings.”
The conferences will be planned in partnership with NSF officials from HBCU-UP and the NSF’s Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) program and the Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship program (IGERT) Recruitment Network. Both the AGEP and IGERT programs seek to broaden participation of underrepresented groups in graduate school and the Ph.D. workforce.
EHR has won wide recognition for its efforts to expand and improve the STEM workforce, and it has worked globally to advance the idea that in the years ahead, nations will need to draw scientists and engineers from the broadest possible pool of talent. Currently, AAAS administers the Graduate Scholars Program, an ambitious scholarship-based campaign founded by the Packard Foundation to bring science and engineering students from historically black colleges and universities into doctoral work at top research institutions.
The NSF grant also is “an attractive opportunity,” George said, because it further strengthens AAAS ties to the historically black colleges and universities.
Since the launch of the program in 1998, McKayle said, HBCU-UP has invested nearly $142 million in building STEM education and research capacity at the black colleges and universities. There are 105 HBCUs nationwide, and the NSF program has awarded grants to 63 of them.
Edward W. Lempinen
25 September 2006