MS PHD’S: A successful model for reaching underrepresented minorities (URM) students through virtual platforms

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Onjale Scott1,2, Ashanti Johnson3, Vivian Williamson4, Lois Ricciardi3, Ambrose Jearld Jr.2 and Warner I Guzman5, (1)Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach, FL, United States, (2)NOAA-Northeast Fisheries Science Center, Woods Hole, MA, United States, (3)Institute for Broadening Participation, Damariscotta, ME, United States, (4)Ohio Aerospace Institute, Cleveland, OH, United States, (5)University of Puerto Rico Rio Piedras Campus, Cidra, PR, United States
To successfully recruit and retain underrepresented minority (URM) students and early career scientists, many programs supplement traditional curricular activities with multiple online platforms, establishing “virtual communities" that are free and easily accessible. These virtual communities offer readily sustainable opportunities to facilitate communication across a wide range of cultural lines and socioeconomic levels thereby broadening participation and inclusivity in STEM. Established in 2003, the Minorities Striving and Pursuing Higher Degrees of Success (MS PHD’S) in Earth System Science Professional Development Program has successfully used virtual community tools such as a listserv, community forum, social media, and VoIP technologies, to extend the face-to-face activities of the program and support the advancement of URM students and early career scientists in STEM. The use of multiple facets of virtual community by MS PHD’S participants supports and encourages “real life” interactions and mentorship, facilitates networking and professional development, and maintains continuity of shared networks. The program is now in its ninth cohort and supports 213 participants. To date, 54 participants have completed their PhD and another 61 are currently enrolled in doctoral programs.