NSF program supports minority graduate students

Associate program director Zia Isola (far right) with new Bridge to Doctorate fellows (from right to left): Juan Castellon, Brian Leon, Michelle Herrick-Armstrong, Jordan Ruybal, Maria Uribe, and Richard Cathey. Fellows not pictured include Christopher Toni, Ruth Tilus, Prestina Smith, and Michael McThrow. Photo by B. Wagman.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded nearly $1 million to establish a Bridge to the Doctorate program at UC Santa Cruz that will provide fellowships for science and engineering graduate students from underrepresented minority populations.

The new program--the first of its kind on the UCSC campus--will increase the number of underrepresented students successfully completing graduate degrees in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. The $987,000 grant will support  a cohort of 12 graduate students at UC Santa Cruz during their first two years in doctoral programs, beginning this fall.

The UCSC Bridge to the Doctorate Graduate Research Training Fellowship Program is an initiative of the Division of Physical and Biological Sciences, the Baskin School of Engineering, and the Division of Graduate Studies, in partnership with the main office of the California Alliance for Minority Participation (CAMP) at UC Irvine.

The graduate fellows starting the program this fall at UCSC include students in astronomy and astrophysics; ecology and evolutionary biology; chemistry and biochemistry; computer science; mathematics; microbiology and environmental toxicology; physics; and molecular, cell, and developmental biology. Students and faculty will engage in a focused program of intensive mentoring and professional development to prepare participants for a highly competitive doctoral environment and ultimately for careers in academia or in the technical workforce.

The UCSC program is the sixth Bridge to the Doctorate program in the UC system and is sponsored by the UC-NSF Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation. By increasing the success in graduate school of historically underrepresented members of society, the program will help to create a vibrant intellectual community at UCSC and a campus-wide research environment that welcomes diverse approaches to scientific discovery.

For additional information about the Bridge to the Doctorate Program, contact the campus program officers, Zia Isola (isola@soe.ucsc.edu) and Malika Bell (malika@biology.ucsc.edu).