Northern Arizona University has won a $700,000 federal grant to help Native Americans and other underrepresented students do scientific research.
"It funds undergrads to work with faculty mentors on cutting-edge research," said Nancy Johnson, an ecologist who founded and directs the program.
The Undergraduate Research and Mentoring (URM) program replaces the 10-year-old Undergraduate Mentoring in Environmental Biology (UMEB) program. More than 50 students have participated in the program since its beginning.
The new grant broadens the scope to more fields in biology.
The money from the National Science Foundation will pay $15,000 in scholarships and wages per year to each of seven or eight students to study under top biologists, chemists, foresters, environmental scientists and others at NAU.
"That grant is very exciting because it's going to provide all kinds of marvelous research opportunities for some of our very best undergraduate students here at NAU," said Maribeth Watwood, biology department chair.
The program helped student Ciarra Greene win another fellowship by helping her develop her research, she said in an e-mail. She is in Boston for a meeting of the American Chemical Society.
She worked on academic development and also personal development, she said. She said it was a great experience, making friends and mentors and opening up new opportunities.
"We want to take it another step and get those students confident in their abilities with research so they can get accepted at top graduate schools in the country," Johnson said.
The students will get help applying to grad schools and paying grad school application fees.
Johnson has been driven to improving diversity in science because of an experience she had as a student.
An advisor told her she couldn't be a researcher and get a Ph.D. and have a family, she said. But she did it.
Today, women are a majority in biology fields, she added.
Now, she said, the underrepresented groups include Native Americans, Hispanics, African Americans and disabled people.
Becky Pallack can be reached at email@example.com or (520) 954-2492.