The Alabama Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) is a senior ? level alliance that has an infrastructure uniquely positioned to implement a Bridge to the Doctorate (BD) program as described in the solicitation: NSF 12-564. Moreover, Alabama LSAMP has had success with previous BD programs and has secured the experience necessary to continue the implementation of this important national program. While gaining this experience, the alliance has learned many lessons in implementation of a successful BD program. The lessons learned will ensure that all BD students will transition successfully into science; technology; engineering and mathematics (STEM) Ph.D. programs and the professoriate and/or STEM workforce.
The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) will serve as the site of the BD program. Fourteen underrepresented minority STEM students will be recruited nationwide to participate in the program. Twelve of the selected students will be supported by NSF funds and two supported by UAB funds committed to the program by the UAB president. The recruitment efforts will be led by the dean of the college of arts and sciences and interim dean of the school of engineering. UAB has a proven record of recruitment, retention, graduation and placement of STEM students in doctoral degree programs. Selected BD participants will receive an annual stipend of $30,000 plus tuition, fees, health insurance, an assigned faculty mentor and the opportunity to attend and participate in at least one professional scientific meeting each year. In addition, BD participants will be required to attend special topic seminars concerning graduate school matriculation designed specifically for the program and procedures for applying for NSF and other fellowships. Linkages will be established with the NSF AGEP, IGERT and other programs. At the end of the two year award period, BD students remaining in UAB doctoral programs will be guaranteed a continuation of the same level of financial support through a combination of departmental fellowships and additional financial support from the university. BD students not remaining at UAB will be connected to doctoral programs at other institutions and will be assisted in securing fellowship and other support at the selected institution. All BD students will be tracked into doctoral degree programs and the workforce, including the professoriate.
The proposed program will be evaluated by the Alabama LSAMP Social Science Research Team, consisting of two UAB social scientists involved with the regular LSAMP program. Assessment data will be collected and evaluated at intervals during the two year grant period and beyond. In collaboration with other BD site coordinators and national LSAMP PIs, Alabama LSAMP will publish the annual National LSAMP BD Magazine with funds leveraged from its regular LSAMP award. The magazine is an excellent source of publicity for the BD program as well as an important networking tool for BD students.
Intellectual Merit - The project is an important step in advancing the knowledge of underrepresented minority students in STEM. The experiences gained by these students working with science and education faculty will position them for excellent career advancement and contribute to the nation's great need for minority scientist in both research and the professoriate.
Broader Impact - The project broadens participation of underrepresented groups in graduate education with the real prospect of increasing the number of such groups attaining doctoral degrees in STEM and entering the professoriate. Discovery and understanding resulting from this project will be disseminated via a national BD publication to other institutions and programs focusing on graduate education.