Grant Funding Enables Grambling to Move Scholars into STEM Research

By Stewart, Pearl | Diverse Issues in Higher Education, August 15, 2013 | Go to article overview

Grant Funding Enables Grambling to Move Scholars into STEM Research


Stewart, Pearl, Diverse Issues in Higher Education


Daron Spence and Portia Taylor are promising young scholars in STEM research thanks to the training and support they received from a program at Grambling State University.

After graduating from Grambling, Taylor earned her Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from Carnegie Mellon University and is an IT fellow with the Social Security Administration and an adjunct assistant professor at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Spence, who graduated from Grambling last year with a bachelor's degree in engineering technology, is returning in the fall to complete another B.S., this one in mathematics. He has a research internship this summer at Georgia Tech.

Both scholars participated in Grambling's Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) program, which is funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health. Through MARC, Spence and Taylor worked one-on-one with mentors, received Kaplan tutoring for the GRE, conducted research projects and presented them at national conferences. They were also able to meet recruiters from various corporations and graduate schools, interactions that led to their internships and fellowships.

This summer, Grambling was rewarded for the success of MARC by receiving another grant from NIH, this one a five-year $1.7 million award. MARC, a national initiative aimed at increasing the numbers of underrepresented minorities in biomedical research, was first funded at Grambling in 1998. Since then, there have been 69 MARC Scholars. To date, the National Institute of General Medical Sciences at NIH has funded the program with a cumulative amount of $5,746,454.

"The program was a good framework that exposed me to what grad school would be like," Spence says. "We had tutors for every STEM class. It also allowed us to explore different avenues in research."

Taylor stressed the importance of being able to concentrate on coursework without financial pressures. "They provided a stipend and tuition, so it put you in a position where you didn't have to worry about anything financially, so you could just focus on your studies."

Both grads say one of the best aspects of the program was being able to present their research at national conferences. Taylor says she won first place in the quantitative sciences oral competition. …

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