diversity graphic with nsf logo

NSF Grant Awarded to Advance Recruitment of Underrepresented Minorities in STEM Ph.D. Pipeline

September 21, 2020

College of Engineering and College of Sciences leverage grant to drive diversity across all graduate programs

Recent NSF reports indicate that underrepresented minorities (URM) STEM associate and full professors occupy only 8 percent of these senior faculty positions at all four-year colleges and universities, and only about 6 percent of these positions at the nation's most research-intensive institutions.

Announced today, Georgia Tech’s College of Engineering and College of Sciences will join an alliance that includes eight other research universities to increase rates of doctoral candidates transitioning into postdoctoral scholar positions and postdoctoral scholars transitioning into early-career faculty employment. The project is known as Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) Research Universities Alliance Model: Advancing Minority Math, Physical Science, Environmental Science, and Engineering PhD Candidates and Postdoctoral Scholars to Faculty.

headshot of felicia benton-johnson

Felicia Benton-Johnson from the College of Engineering is the lead PI on the project 

“The model to advance minority Ph.D. candidates and postdoctoral scholars to faculty will enable Georgia Tech to expand our efforts in cultivating a diverse cadre of STEM faculty,” said Felica Benton-Johnson, assistant dean in the College of Engineering, director of the Center for Engineering Education and Diversity (CEED), and lead PI for the grant. “The funding will be used to support future minority STEM faculty to participate in professional development activities that prepare them for faculty positions at Tier 1 research universities.”

The primary outcomes of the AGEP Alliance Model project include:

  • Increased rates of doctoral candidates transitioning into postdoctoral scholar positions and postdoctoral scholars transitioning into early-career faculty employment
  • Scaling of the research exchange and postdoctoral online portal to the nine partnering institutions
  • Study of the model for future scaling
headshot Matt Baker

Matt Baker from the College of Sciences is co-PI on the project 

“I'm excited about the new NSF AGEP grant, and I've been very impressed with both the overall Alliance model and with its leadership team,” said Matt Baker, associate dean for Faculty Development in the College of Sciences and co-PI on the grant. “It's great that Georgia Tech will be a part of the future growth of the program. I firmly believe in this kind of research alliance as a proven, effective way to make scientific research in the U.S. more diverse, equitable, and inclusive. Our involvement with the AGEP Alliance should also work synergistically with efforts Georgia Tech has already set in motion to improve the representation of people of color on our faculty.”

This AGEP Alliance Model has the potential to improve the success of URM doctoral candidates and postdoctoral scholars transitioning into early-career MPESE faculty positions.  Advancing the careers of URM faculty may lead to improved academic mentorship for all undergraduate and graduate students, and postdoctoral scholars in STEM disciplines.

“Georgia Tech’s partnership in the AGEP Alliance Model, a collaborative research project which seeks to up-scale the underrepresented minority faculty entry into the professoriate, may provide a model for higher education to accelerate the success of URM doctoral candidates and postdoctoral scholars transitioning into early-career MPESE faculty positions. Given the centrality of inclusive innovation to Tech’s next Strategic Plan, lessons learned from this collaboration can be utilized to increase the diversity of the Institute’s STEM faculty in the coming decade.” -Archie Ervin, vice president for Institute Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Other co-PIs for the AGEP Research Universities Alliance Model: Advancing Minority Math, Physical Science, Environmental Science, and Engineering PhD Candidates and Postdoctoral Scholars to Faculty include Terri Lee, Assistant Dean - Faculty Affairs & Accreditation in the College of Engineering. 

Learn more about the grant: AGEP Research Universities Alliance Model: Advancing Minority Math, Physical Science, Environmental Science, and Engineering PhD Candidates and Postdoctoral Scholars to Faculty

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