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April 3, 2006

Drs. Hrabowski, Summers Share Success Strategies for Producing Minority Scientists, Engineers

'Preparing Minority Scientists, Engineers' Appears in Science Magazine

President Freeman Hrabowski and Dr. Michael Summers of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), have published an article in the March 31 issue of Science Magazine, "Preparing Minority Scientists and Engineers," that examines successful strategies for educating minority scientists and engineers in college and fostering their pursuit of doctorates and medical degrees.

The authors begin by noting that well-prepared minority students are originally interested in pursuing scientific or engineering careers, but far too few of those students actually graduate with degrees in those subjects. Students who entered UMBC's Meyerhoff Program, for example, were twice as likely to earn a science or engineering bachelor's degree and 5.3 times more likely to enroll in post-graduate study, when compared to those who were accepted to UMBC's Meyerhoff Program but attended other institutions.

Hrabowski and Summers then identify several factors necessary for minority student success, such as involving the students in scientific research projects as early as possible.

The Meyerhoff Program (named after its founders, Baltimore philanthropists Robert and his late wife Jane Meyerhoff), focuses on producing bachelor's degree recipients, particularly African-Americans, who go on to doctoral programs in science and engineering. UMBC is leading the nation as a producer of minority scientists who have gone on to earn Ph.D.s and medical degrees. Meyerhoff students with completed advanced degrees now number 44 with Ph.Ds or M.D.-Ph.Ds, 72 with master's degrees and 32 with medical degrees.

Meyerhoff Program alumni include a clinical fellow in cardiovascular medicine at Harvard Medical School, a post-doctoral fellow in neuroscience at Johns Hopkins Medical School and a research and development scientist at Eastman Kodak.

Dr. Michael Summers, professor of chemistry/biochemistry and investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) at UMBC, has worked closely with Meyerhoff Scholars in the course of his research on the application of nuclear magnetic resonance to studies of the structure and function of proteins.

Hrabowski and Summers identify five elements in achieving positive outcomes in retention and development of minority scientists and engineers. Those elements are recruiting a substantial body of high-achieving minority students with interests in math and science; offering merit-based financial support; providing an orientation program for freshman; recruitment of active research faculty to work with the students; and involvement of students in scientific research projects early in their undergraduate careers.

Posted by crose at April 3, 2006 2:53 PM