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    National Science Foundation Awards $1.5 Million Grant To Morehouse College

    November 15, 2018

    Morehouse College has received a $1.5 million grant to help historically black colleges and universities attract new STEM majors by enhancing programs and encouraging students to see themselves as future scientists. 

    The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded the funds to Morehouse’s new HBCU Identity Research Center (IRC) for STEM. The program, led by Dr. Lycurgus Muldrow, executive director of the IRC, will study how the formation of a scientific identity in students builds their confidence and motivates them to succeed and graduate with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics degrees.

    The IRC will also research and disseminate information involving mainstream education reform in STEM areas and other disciplines, as well as promote the academic value of an HBCU education.

    “We are excited about the opportunity to do this important work,” Muldrow said. “The IRC will create a community of scholars across the HBCU landscape that will work together to foster a research culture that increases collaboration and academic outreach, and promotes continuous learning.”

    Currently, 38 faculty members from 21 HBCUs and five other institutions are committed IRC research participants. During the life of the pilot grant, two post-doctoral fellows and more than 15 students will be hired to work on research projects. In addition, more than 2,200 students at Morehouse College and participating HBCUs will play a role in the IRC’s identity research or experience improved pedagogy as part of the research.

    According to the Pew Research Center, black, Hispanic, and female workers continue to be underrepresented in STEM fields. While blacks comprise 11 percent of the U.S. workforce overall, for example, they only represent 9 percent of STEM workers.

    The percentage of Hispanic employees in STEM fields is even smaller. While Hispanics comprise 16 percent of the U.S. workforce, only 7 percent of all STEM employees are Hispanic.

    One potential barrier for those who desire to work in STEM fields is the generally higher level of educational attainment required for such positions. Among college-educated workers, one-in-three, or 33 percent, majored in a STEM field.

    The HBCU IRC will work to address this disparity issue by sharing information about programs and strategies that are working to attract students to STEM education and careers.

    After successfully completing this pilot grant, Morehouse College will be eligible to submit a continuation proposal for the IRC valued at $9 million. 

    Muldrow will work in conjunction with several other principal investigators at Morehouse College who will support the work of the IRC, including Dr. Michael Hodge, Interim Provost of Academic Affairs, Dr. Kinnis Gosha, an assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science, and Dr. Larry Blumer, a professor and chair of the Department of Biology.

    About Morehouse College
    Morehouse College is the nation’s largest liberal arts college for men. Founded in 1867, the College enrolls approximately 2,200 students and is the nation’s largest producer of black Rhodes Scholars and black men who go on to receive doctorates. Historically, Morehouse also has conferred more bachelor’s degrees on black men than any other institution in the world. Morehouse College is one of the two top producers of Rhodes Scholars among HBCUs. Prominent alumni include: Martin Luther King Jr., Nobel Peace Prize Laureate; Dr. David Satcher, former U.S. Surgeon General; Shelton “Spike” Lee, award-winning American filmmaker; Maynard H. Jackson, the first African American mayor of Atlanta; and Jeh Johnson, former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security. Morehouse currently has more than 17,000 alumni in 40 states and 14 countries.

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