Minority students will expand knowledge of science through Sigma Xi Diversity Grant

The UAB chapter of Sigma Xi was awarded a Diversity Grant to broaden science experiences for underrepresented minority students in the Birmingham area.

Environmental head shot of Dr. Samiksha Raut, PhD (Assistant Professor, Biology), 2018. Samiksha Raut, Ph.D.
Photography: Steve Wood
The University of Alabama at Birmingham chapter of Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Honor Society, has received funding for a Diversity Grant application to connect students in low-income areas with UAB scientists.

UAB’s Sigma Xi chapter is one of only two recipients of this competitive grant from across the country. This is the first grant the chapter has received since its inception, says chapter president Samiksha Raut, Ph.D., associate professor in the College of Arts and Sciences Department of Biology. The grant is titled “A Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics Outreach (S.T.E.M.O) Partnership: Increasing representation and accessibility in science.”

“In the last few years, S.T.E.M.O has been working tirelessly to connect students in low-income areas with UAB scientists,” Raut said. “Our Sigma Xi chapter is excited to collaborate and support these efforts with S.T.E.M.O with an intent to diversify and broaden the participation of underrepresented minority students from the Greater Birmingham area.”

This grant proposal will be spearheaded by S.T.E.M.O biology graduate students Sarah Adkins, Elise Keister and Melissa Walker, along with their faculty adviser Peggy Biga, Ph.D., associate professor in the College of Arts and SciencesDepartment of Biology.

Raut says a unique aspect of this grant is the active involvement of UAB undergraduate students through the Office of Undergraduate Research and Service-Learning.

“This initiative is indeed like killing two birds with one stone as we get to target two different populations: undergraduate students and K-12 students in research endeavors,” Raut said. “Indeed, numerous studies suggest that early immersion in research activities promotes career aspirations in the STEM fields. This is particularly important for first-generation minority students who continue to remain disproportionately underrepresented. We expect that this partnership will result in sustaining strong collaborations with our K-12 school systems around the area.”

Raut says, long-term, this funding will help open more doors for S.T.E.M.O and Sigma Xi partnerships, including joint summer camp programs and authentic laboratory experiences for students.

“I am hopeful and grateful for this partnership and opportunity,” she said.

If you are interested in becoming a member of Sigma Xi or would like to know about the chapter at UAB, please contact Samiksha Raut at sraut@uab.edu.