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Abstract Detail

Broadening Participation - Recruiting and Retaining Outstanding Scientists in the Botanical Science

McKenna, Mary [1].

Growing Minority Botanists: “Roots” of Engagement for Undergraduates.

The national under-representation of African Americans and other minorities in graduate programs and professional careers in botany, ecology, and environmental science is an area of critical concern for the future of these fields. In 2004, faculty at Howard University established the Environmental Biology Scholars program with support from NSF, to develop a community of African-American undergraduate researchers prepared for graduate programs in botany, ecology, and environmental biology. Key aspects of this program are (1) early recruitment of talented and highly motivated students (2) early and sustained research experiences (3) close mentoring by Howard faculty (4) strong peer mentoring (5) community-building through regular meetings and activities for all participants (6) opportunities to present research at scientific meetings, and (7) effective partnerships with the scientific community. Our students benefit from participation in REU programs throughout the US and internationally (OTS, Ghana), and in particular, we formed a strong partnership with UVA’s Blandy REU program. Close partnerships with graduate programs at U Michigan, UC Davis, and UC San Diego provide further training for our students. Diversity outreach programs in scientific societies such as PLANTS (BSA) and SEEDS (ESA) are another important tool that provides a glimpse of the professional life of a scientist and empowers students to expand their scientific networks. So far, nineteen Environmental Biology Scholars graduated from the program and fourteen students are current participants. Ten of our graduates entered masters programs in botany, ecology or environmental science (half at Yale FES and U Michigan), and four are currently pursuing a doctorate (Duke, Berkeley, Texas Tech, and Columbia U). Although the biology students at Howard (and HBCU’s generally) have traditionally been attracted to medical careers or research in biomedical areas of biology, creating a community of inquiry and peer support along with sincere and sustained faculty mentoring can be transformative.

Broader Impacts:

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1 - Howard University, Biology Department, Washington, DC 20059 USA

Broadening Participation.

Presentation Type: Symposium or Colloquium Presentation
Session: SY03
Location: Versailles Ballroom/Riverside Hilton
Date: Tuesday, July 30th, 2013
Time: 10:45 AM
Number: SY03008
Abstract ID:503
Candidate for Awards:None

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