MEDIA ADVISORY: New Summer Research Program Encourages Research Among Minority Students

June 3, 2010 — The Virginia-North Carolina Alliance, a joint project between the University of Virginia's Office for Diversity and Equity, its School of Engineering and Applied Science and seven other colleges and universities in the two states, will soon host its first Summer Research Program.

Twelve rising second- and third-year students from underrepresented minorities will arrive at U.Va. for orientation on June 6, then conduct mentored research at U.Va. for eight weeks this summer.

This new program will bring students to Grounds from seven of the eight partner schools in the alliance: Bennett College for Women, George Mason University, Johnson C. Smith University, Saint Augustine's College, University of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University and Virginia Tech. (Elizabeth City State University is the eighth school).

Dr. Marcus Martin, interim vice president for diversity and equity, will welcome the budding researchers at 5 p.m. in Bice House. The students will then meet with their professors over pizza.

Brooks Pate, William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Chemistry in the College of Arts & Sciences and director of U.Va.'s Center for Chemistry of the Universe, and Gregory Gerling, assistant professor in the Engineering School's Department of Systems and Information Engineering, will work closely with the students on interdisciplinary topics.

In addition to the move-in date, other noteworthy events that will be part of the research program include:

    •    July 20: Program swap day (the students will visit each others' labs)
    •    July 21: Tour at Green Bank Observatory in West Virginia
    •    July 30: Research presentations and closing ceremony

Supported by a five-year, $5 million grant from the National Science Foundation's Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation Program, the Virginia-North Carolina Alliance is dedicated to increasing the number of underrepresented minority students who earn doctorates and become professionals in science, technology, engineering and mathematics – the so-called "STEM fields."

Started in 1991 by a Congressional mandate, the National Science Foundation program has created 35 similar alliances across the nation with more than 475 participating campuses and more than 250,000 graduates in STEM fields.

— By Anne Bromley