Grant will help boost the number of underrepresented students in the field of biology

Reclaiming the American Dream Scholarship Program receives $600,000 NSF grant.

Miller School (July 16, 2013) — A $600,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) will help the University of Miami boost the number of underrepresented students in the field of biology and could serve as a springboard to their pursuit of advanced degrees in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) subjects.

The grant will provide scholarships to some 30 Miami Dade College transfer students pursuing bachelor’s degrees in biology at UM. It will also provide psychological support and professional development activities for the students, said Michael S. Gaines, professor of biology and assistant provost of undergraduate research and community outreach.

Gaines, along with professor of biology David P. Janos, directs the Reclaiming the American Dream Scholarship Program for Community College Transfer Students that received the NSF grant.

“There is a large pool of talented students from underrepresented groups at Miami Dade College,” said Gaines, noting that UM wants to recruit such students in hopes that they will eventually pursue doctoral degrees.

Noting that the scholarship initiative builds on an established and successful transfer program between a community college and a research university, Gaines said the grant will ensure that academically talented scholars have financial and other support to persist and excel in regionally and nationally important STEM fields.

Beyond scholarships, students are being supported comprehensively through seminars and professional development workshops, faculty advising, peer mentoring, research and conference opportunities, and parental/family outreach. The intellectual merit of this project lies in the well-planned activities and strong collaborative relationship between the partnering institutions.

The grant will provide financial aid to ensure that STEM degrees will be accessible to talented students no matter what their resources. The project is also serving as a model for other institutions in achieving transformation, not only for individual students but also in integrating a pool of talent into the broader scientific and economic enterprise.


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