N.C. A&T faculty tapped to research diversity in STEM

EAST GREENSBORO, N.C. (Oct. 29, 2018) – North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University has been awarded a collaborative research grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) program.

“AGEP North Carolina Alliance: An Institutional Transformation Model to Increase Minority STEM Doctoral Student and Faculty Success,” is a five-year $761,280 grant seeks to address a critical issue of underrepresentation of African-American and Hispanic/Latinx students in STEM disciplines.

The lead researcher on the grant, Keith Schimmel, is the director of North Carolina A&T’s applied science and technology (AST) doctoral program in the College of Science and Technology (CoST).

“The low percentage of underrepresented students in STEM faculty is an important issue for A&T and all institutions,” Schimmel said. “Our approach to increase minority Ph.D. students who become faculty is to figure out how to develop departmental cultures that are conducive to underrepresented student success.”

Schimmel and his team are collaborating with researchers and officials at North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte to develop, implement, and study a model to create institutional, department-level, and faculty change and promote doctoral completion and progression to faculty careers among historically underrepresented doctoral students in STEM disciplines.

Each participating department will have a volunteer faculty member interested in historically underrepresented student success issues designated as an "AGEP-NC Faculty Fellow." The Fellow will receive support and training on mentoring, the experiences of underrepresented minority students, and fostering change. Each Fellow will work together with their department head, graduate program coordinator, and departmental faculty colleagues to understand graduate student pathways, identify practices and policies that promote success, and diagnose trouble spots.

Based on this study of the graduate student experience in their own department, the faculty will then develop a departmental plan to build these insights into departmental practices and procedures. Project funding will be available to help implement initiatives identified in the plans.

The A&T research team consists of Abdellah Ahmidouch, CoST dean; Ajit Kelkar, nanoengineering chair; John Kizito, mechanical engineering professor; and Dean Campbell, assistant dean for academic services in the Graduate College.