Workshop examines diversity in STEM graduate education

Published: Oct 6, 2015


Facilitating underrepresented STEM graduate student and postdoctoral professional development with an eye toward establishing pathways to careers has been at the core of the PROMISE AGEP mission since its inception more than a decade ago. The University System of Maryland (USM)-wide effort is funded by the National Science Foundation and focuses on increasing graduate student recruitment and retention, Ph.D. completion and career preparation, programs for postdoctoral scholars, and programs to enhance faculty understanding of diversity issues in graduate and postdoctoral education.

Graduate deans and STEM deans from across the University System of Maryland (USM) recently gathered at UMBC for a workshop to analyze current diversity issues and to develop tools and ideas for what can most be effective in supporting the goals of PROMISE moving forward. The event, held on September 11, 2015 in the Albin O. Kuhn Library, recognized 12 USM PROMISE AGEP Outstanding Faculty Mentors for 2015-2016 and brought together members of the PROMISE AGEP-T External Advisory Board.

“I think you all understand it takes commitment and hard work to engage in the issues we are going to be discussing today,” UMBC Provost Philip Rous told the group in his opening remarks at the event. “And while we all understand that this workshop is perhaps a smaller part of all of your efforts in this arena, it represents a commitment to understanding and using that understanding to make meaningful and sustainable change.”

Following Dr. Rous’ remarks, Dr. Daryl Chubin, an independent consultant and Senior Fellow with the Georgia Center for Educational Renewal, provided a detailed presentation about understanding interventions that broaden participation in science careers. His talk focused on how higher education institutions can improve academic success and career advancement and it closely analyzed minority participation in STEM fields.

“What this program is about is really changing values as it changes lives,” Chubin said when describing PROMISE.

During the workshop, the 12 PROMISE Outstanding Faculty Mentors were honored for their ongoing work in mentoring diverse groups of students. The honorees were selected by underrepresented graduate students in STEM disciplines and leaders of STEM diversity programs for their inclusion efforts and actions, involvement in STEM diversity conversations, participation in PROMISE activities, and conducting research that broadens the participation of underrepresented STEM scholars.

In addition, several invited faculty members were recognized for their contributions toward efforts for faculty diversity and setting standards of excellence in their work on which the PROMISE Mentors program is based.

Renetta Tull, founding director and co-PI of PROMISE, and UMBC’s associate vice provost for graduate student development and postdoctoral affairs, noted that successful programs that broaden participation need the investment and engagement of full campus communities: administrators, faculty, staff, and students. She said that the campuses within the University System of Maryland are modeling success in the area of graduate student and postdoctoral diversity and inclusion in STEM, and that faculty support and involvement are key to that success.

The faculty who were honored include the following from UMBC, the University of Maryland College Park (UMCP), and the University of Maryland Baltimore (UMB):

Dr. Joseph Stains – physiology
Dr. Eileen Barry – microbiology and immunology
Dr. Denise Orwig – epidemiology
Dr. Jacques Ravel – genomics

UM College Park:
Dr. Jeffrey Herrmann – mechanical engineering
Dr. Hugh Bruck – mechanical engineering
Dr. Jeffrey Klauda – chemical and biomolecular engineering
Dr. Sreeramurthy Ankem – materials science and engineering

Dr. Kathleen Hoffman – mathematics
Dr. Stephen Miller – biological sciences
Dr. Ravi Kuber – information systems
Dr. Carlos Romero-Talamas  – mechanical engineering

Additional faculty who have engaged in work on diversity and were also invited to be recognized and contribute to the conversation included:
Dr. Michael Summers (biochemistry, UMBC)
Dr. Tim Oates (computer science and electrical engineering, UMBC)
Dr. Shawn Bediako (psychology, UMBC)
Dr. David Tilley (environmental sciences and technology, UMCP)
Dr. Siddhartha Das (mechanical engineering, UMCP)
Dr. Bret Hassel (microbiology & immunology, UMB)
Dr. Eduardo Davila (microbiology & immunology, UMB)
Dr. Greg Carey (microbiology & immunology, UMB).

The group photo includes a subset of the outstanding STEM faculty mentors and invited faculty who were recognized by PROMISE for their diversity efforts at the graduate student level.

Image: Photo by Marlayna Demond ’11 for UMBC. 

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