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Biology Department Receives Grant to Increase Diversity

Posted: September 27, 2007
Christopher Pennuto, associate professor of biology, has received a $381,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to increase the number of minority students pursuing graduate studies in biology.

Undergraduate Research and Mentoring Program (URM) students will participate in a two-year research experience in aquatic and watershed ecology, resulting in presentable and publishable research. The overall goals of the program are to increase diversity representation in biology, with a special focus on recruiting Native American students, and to improve postbaccalaureate research success.

“Minorities are extremely underrepresented in this field, and the National Science Foundation has recognized that by making the investment to improve minority success,” Pennuto said. “Through this grant, we are trying to create a research culture for these students. By immersing the participants in a scientific community with their peers, it will be a mind-opening experience.”

Taking advantage of two state-of-the-art facilities—the Great Lakes Center and the Point Peter Brook instrumented watershed—the project will utilize faculty expertise from the departments of Biology, Geography and Planning, and Earth Sciences and Science Education to create a watershed research institute.

The URM program will accept nine students for the initial two-year period, which will feature courses, research, social functions, and a seven-day watershed dynamics immersion workshop. Funding will be made available to renew the grant for an additional two years based on the progress of the initial program.
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