Biology faculty receive NSF grant to increase minority representation in STEM

Underrepresented minorities make up about 30% of the U.S. population but only 5% of U.S. science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) doctorates.

Biology faculty Sami Raut and  Jeff Morris. Biology faculty Sami Raut and Jeff Morris. Underrepresented minorities make up about 30% of the U.S. population but only 5% of U.S. science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) doctorates. UAB Department of Biology assistant professors Sami Raut, Ph.D., and Jeff Morris, Ph.D., along with Co-PIs Jeff Olimpo, Ph.D. (University of Texas at El Paso), and Trent Sutton, Ph.D. (University of Alaska Fairbanks), intend to change this statistic. The four PIs have secured a $500,000 NSF education grant that aims to increase research inclusivity through a grassroots culture of scientific teaching.

“A lot of students from underrepresented groups come in to UAB from community colleges and don’t know that undergraduate research is a thing you can do,” says Morris. “Our goal is to get them involved in genuine research while they’re still in introductory classes with the hope that it will get them excited about pursuing careers in science.”

Funded through 2023, the team will build a network of faculty and staff at the three hub universities, as well as their affiliated community and technical colleges, with an eye toward putting active learning and CURE (Course-based Undergraduate Research Experience) reforms into as many introductory-level biology classes as possible.

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