Top young African-American scholars in science and engineering to meet in Monterey, Calif.

July 12, 2005

More than 50 young African-American scholars in science and engineering will convene in Monterey beginning Thursday evening for a conference that will focus not only on their research, but on the challenges they confront in seeking doctoral degrees and jobs.

The scholars are studying at some of the nation's best research universities under a program initiated by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation in 1992 and managed since 2003 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). They were selected for the Graduate Scholars Program after attending a historically black college or university and then given scholarships that would allow them to pursue a Ph.D.

Among the students at the conference will be eight who are earning their degrees this year, and more than 40 others who are still pursuing their Ph.Ds. Their fields of study range from mathematics to molecular biology, and from electrical engineering to applied physics.

What they share is the common challenge of jumping from a historically black college or university to graduate studies at high-profile research universities. Some make the transition seamlessly; others find that the struggle often faced by graduate students of every background is compounded by a sense of isolation or loneliness. The annual meeting of the Graduate Scholars Program provides a collegial setting for the discussion of those challenges and the most effective strategies for success.

The program is important because recent studies by AAAS and others have shown that the U.S. science and engineering labor pool is getting older and that interest in these fields among younger people has waned. In order to keep that labor force strong and globally competitive, many experts say, it will be essential to recruit and cultivate future scientists and engineers from the broadest possible pool of talent. Currently, however, African Americans comprise only a small percentage of the students earning advanced degrees in the science, technology and engineering fields.

Students in the Graduate Scholars Program are in the vanguard. Since its inception, some 147 fellowships have been awarded, and 41 of the scholars have gone on to receive Ph.Ds. Three scholars are expected to receive Ph.Ds by December 2005 and another 62 are still in the Ph.D pipeline.

They will be joined at the conference by several trailblazing scientists and educators who in the past confronted similar challenges: Norman Francis, president of Xavier University of Louisiana; James Stith, a vice president at the American Institute of Physics; and Shirley Malcom, director of AAAS Education and Human Resources and a 2003 winner of the National Academy of Sciences' Public Welfare Medal.

Among other speakers scheduled for the conference is Barry Gold, who leads the Packard Foundation's efforts to foster the emerging field of sustainability science. The Foundation is based in Los Altos, Calif.

The meeting will be held at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the world's largest general scientific society. AAAS was founded in 1848, and serves some 10 million individuals through 262 affiliated societies and academies of science. The non-profit AAAS ( is open to all and fulfills its mission to "advance science and serve society" through initiatives in science policy; international programs; science education; and more. For the latest research news, log onto EurekAlert!, (, the premier science-news Web site, a service of AAAS.

American Association for the Advancement of Science

Related Engineering Articles from Brightsurf:

Re-engineering antibodies for COVID-19
Catholic University of America researcher uses 'in silico' analysis to fast-track passive immunity

Next frontier in bacterial engineering
A new technique overcomes a serious hurdle in the field of bacterial design and engineering.

COVID-19 and the role of tissue engineering
Tissue engineering has a unique set of tools and technologies for developing preventive strategies, diagnostics, and treatments that can play an important role during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Engineering the meniscus
Damage to the meniscus is common, but there remains an unmet need for improved restorative therapies that can overcome poor healing in the avascular regions.

Artificially engineering the intestine
Short bowel syndrome is a debilitating condition with few treatment options, and these treatments have limited efficacy.

Reverse engineering the fireworks of life
An interdisciplinary team of Princeton researchers has successfully reverse engineered the components and sequence of events that lead to microtubule branching.

New method for engineering metabolic pathways
Two approaches provide a faster way to create enzymes and analyze their reactions, leading to the design of more complex molecules.

Engineering for high-speed devices
A research team from the University of Delaware has developed cutting-edge technology for photonics devices that could enable faster communications between phones and computers.

Breakthrough in blood vessel engineering
Growing functional blood vessel networks is no easy task. Previously, other groups have made networks that span millimeters in size.

Next-gen batteries possible with new engineering approach
Dramatically longer-lasting, faster-charging and safer lithium metal batteries may be possible, according to Penn State research, recently published in Nature Energy.

Read More: Engineering News and Engineering Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to