There is an increasing demand for a highly-skilled and diverse science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) workforce to maintain US innovation and global competitiveness. To create such a workforce one of the most important barriers that must be addressed is the severe under-representation of minority students in STEM graduate education. The Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) program assists universities and colleges in diversifying the STEM workforce through their efforts by significantly increasing the numbers of students successfully completing high quality degree programs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. Particular emphasis is placed on transforming STEM education through innovative recruitment and retention strategies and experiences in support of groups historically underrepresented in STEM disciplines: African-Americans, Alaskan Natives, American Indians, Hispanic Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Native Pacific Islanders. The Bridge-to-Doctorate (BD) program at the University of Texas at Dallas (UT Dallas), which is part of the University of Texas System LSAMP, will address this critical issue by providing 12 incoming PhD students from underrepresented minority (URM) groups with substantial fellowships, mentoring and professional development activities to enable their successful transition from undergraduate programs to complete a PhD in a STEM field. The Fellows will undertake STEM research projects within the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science, the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences and the School of Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication. The BD Program at UT Dallas also seeks to change the institutional culture by creating new support programs for URM students, a new URM student recruitment and visitation weekend, faculty mentoring resources, and improve the visibility highly-talented and motivated URM students and alumni. Thus this program will not only benefit this cohort of BD Fellows but also lead to increased numbers of URM students in STEM who successfully complete their doctoral degrees at UT Dallas and successfully transition into workforce in the long term.

The University of Texas at Dallas (UT Dallas), which is part of the University of Texas (UT) LSAMP, Bridge-to-Doctorate (BD) Program will support underrepresented minority (URM) students in completing doctoral degrees in STEM and will develop best practices that increase success for these students. These best practices will build on the experiences by our partner in the UT LSAMP. This BD Program will contribute to the understanding of the doctoral and graduate education of URM students. Throughout the program, formative, as well as summative, data will be employed to determine which interventions, such as improved mentoring and enrichment and professional development activities, enable students from URM groups to successfully transition from undergraduate programs to the completion of a PhD in a STEM field. It will also determine how these activities positively impact the faculty mentors and advisors. These interventions will enable faculty to identify and develop the mentoring skills needed to best support URM students and to better understand the benefits and opportunities URM students bring to STEM doctoral programs. This program will contribute to a diverse, innovative and globally competitive workforce as envisioned by the America COMPETES Act and related initiatives, such as those in the State of Texas.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Human Resource Development (HRD)
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A. Hicks
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University of Texas at Dallas
United States
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