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March 28, 2008

Celebrating a 'Blueprint for Diversity'

Meyerhoff Scholarship Program 20th Anniversary
Research Symposium+Celebration, April 4-5

Mike Lurie

Office: 410-455-6380
Cellphone: 443-695-0262

Nearly 200 alumni of the Meyerhoff Scholarship Program will gather April 4-5 for a 20th Anniversary Symposium+Celebration at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) and the Sheraton Inner Harbor Hotel in Baltimore. They will share stories that shatter stereotypes of who can excel in the sciences and bring the intellectual power America needs to be globally competitive.

When the National Academy of Sciences examined the United States’ weakening position in science and technology, its Rising Above the Gathering Storm report noted a “deep (concern) that the scientific building blocks critical to our economic leadership are eroding at a time when many other nations are gathering strength.”

Building the ranks of scientists and engineers by preparing underrepresented minorities in these fields has been a 20-year priority at UMBC. The program is widely recognized for its success in addressing the under-representation of minorities in math, science, technology, and engineering (STEM) disciplines.

UMBC is now a national model for educating talented students from all backgrounds in these areas. The university is a leading producer of blacks who go on to receive Ph.D.s and M.D./Ph.Ds. from top-ranked institutions.

A member of the first class of Meyerhoff Scholars, Chester Hedgepeth was the first African-American male to earn the M.D./Ph.D. degree from the University of Pennsylvania (2000) and is now a faculty member at Harvard Medical School. In May 2007, Meyerhoff Scholar Kafui Dzirasa became the first African-American to be awarded a Ph.D. from the Duke University Department of Neurobiology, completing the degree more quickly than anyone in the program’s history. Crystal Watkins became the first female Meyerhoff Scholar to earn her M.D./Ph.D. when she completed the degree at Johns Hopkins University.

The success of the Meyerhoff Scholarship Program is reflected by the 200 alumni who have graduated from Ph.D., M.D./Ph.D., M.D., M.S., and other terminal, graduate or professional degree programs. In addition, 250 alumni from the program are enrolled in graduate and professional programs.

The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that the Meyerhoff Scholarship Program “has been widely praised as a ‘blueprint’ for overhauling science education at other institutions.” Science magazine noted in 2003 that BEST (Building Engineering and Science Talent) recognized the program for exceptional “institutional leadership” in a report to Congress of best practices among university programs that have led the way in training minorities in the sciences.

The Meyerhoff 20th Anniversary Research Symposium+Celebration provides an opportunity to experience the substantial accomplishments of Meyerhoff alumni and students, hear cutting-edge science presentations and think ambitiously about the future. External participants include STEM leaders from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, National Institutes of Health, DuPont Corporation and Harvard, Stanford, Princeton and New York University School of Medicine.

Posted by mlurie at March 28, 2008 2:37 PM