Building a Bridge to the Doctorate with NSF grant

Colorado State University is the recipient of more than $1 million in funding from the National Science Foundation to support The Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation Bridge to the Doctorate Fellowship program. The award supports 12 dedicated graduate students from domestic underrepresented minority backgrounds who are pursuing graduate studies in STEM — science, technology, engineering, and mathematics — programs at CSU.

The competitive LSAMP program assists students in continuing their educational path to Ph.D. programs. Beginning this semester, the dozen scholars will be awarded a $32,000 per year stipend for the first two years of their graduate studies. Along with this stipend, the fellowship also provides two years of support for educational expenses such as tuition, fees and research materials. Beyond funding, the fellows receive intensive mentoring and academic support to assist them with the successful completion of their graduate studies.

CSU was first awarded the fellowships in 2006 in partnership with the Colorado Alliance for Minority Participation (CO-AMP) Bridge to the Doctorate Program. To date,  three cohorts of fellows have completed Bridge to the Doctorate.

Expertise in high demand

GregFlorant SQ
Greg Florant

Greg Florant, professor of biology, will serve as the director of the Graduate Center for Diversity and Access, to provide leadership for the LSAMP Bridge to the Doctorate Fellowship Program.

“Serving in this new role aligns with my ongoing passion for mentoring underrepresented students pursuing education in the sciences,” he said. “Despite seeing the percentage of all doctoral degrees granted to underrepresented minority students in the STEM disciplines at CSU during the last 15 years increase from 2.1 percent to 10.8 percent, we know there is much more work to be done. 

“Encouraging more students, particularly domestic underrepresented students considering doctoral degrees in STEM fields, is critical, as we are seeing a greater demand for scholars with advanced knowledge in STEM fields. We all benefit from the unique and innovative perspectives drawn from scientists with varied backgrounds as they work to solve new problems we will face in the coming years,” Florant added.

“Due to the LSAMP Bridge to the Doctorate program, CSU is uniquely poised to offer state-of-the-art graduate training to underrepresented students in a broad range of disciplines,” said Jodie Redditi Hanzlik, dean of the graduate school. “Securing this very competitive award allows us to build on our successes and continue our long-standing commitment to significantly increasing STEM Ph.D. enrollment and completion rates of domestic underrepresented students.”

More than funding

Regularly scheduled meetings of the CSU LSAMP Bridge to the Doctorate Fellowship cohort, as well as annual meetings with all the CO-AMP alliance members aim to build a sense of community and serve as a venue for networking and professional development. Other tailored initiatives provide conference presentation experience, leadership opportunities, and extensive advising and mentoring with faculty and peer advisors.

“The breadth and depth of support for fellows in this program is unlike more traditional Ph.D. programs,” Florant said. “My focus is to provide a strong foundation in the beginning of their program, a bridge, that invites continued drive and bolsters both scholarly and professional success. We are exceptionally pleased to be awarded the grant and I look forward to providing guidance to the fellows in the 2016 cohort.”

The 2016 fellows will be announced in the coming weeks.