NDSU summer research program supports diversity in STEM fields
Published July 09, 2013
Top-notch students from across the country have come to NDSU to take part in an exciting adventure in learning. They are participating in the NDSU Summer science, technology, engineering and mathematics program, organized by NDSU’s Office of Multicultural Programs in the Division of Equity, Diversity and Global Outreach.
Among them is Taylor McGowen, a chemical engineering major from Prairie View A&M University, Texas, who is working in the laboratory of Sreekala Bajwa, professor, chair and head of agricultural and biosystems engineering.
“This research program has truly been an enlightening experience,” McGowen said. “My participation at NDSU has allowed me the chance not only to advance my technical skills, but also to create unique bonds that will continue to flourish once I leave. This summer has given me the direction I hoped for so that I am more likely to attend graduate school.”
A total of 12 students from seven institutions are studying and conducting research in academic areas ranging from biology to chemistry, computer science to nutritional sciences. Now in its sixth year, the eight-week program began May 20 and continues until July 11, when the students will give poster presentations on their research.
“The program provides an opportunity for high-academically achieving underrepresented ethnic minority students in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields to learn about research and encourage them to apply for graduate school,” explained Deland Myers, professor in the School of Food Systems and NCAA faculty athletic representative. “We hope some of them will choose to apply at NDSU.”
This year, participating students come from Virginia State University, Alabama A&M University, Delaware State University, Turtle Mountain Community College, Prairie View A&M University, Bowie State University and Morgan State University. Many of the institutional partnerships initially began when the students’ home schools played the Bison in athletic completion, typically football.
“We seek to view athletics and academics holistically; therefore we look at any agreement to participate with a university on the field of athletic competition as an opportunity to collaborate with the university in academics as well,” said Myers. “We are particularly interested in collaborating with universities that have a student demographic that has a significant number of underrepresented students in the STEM disciplines. We have been particularly successful working with Historically Black Colleges and Universities in our recruitment efforts.”
Chiamaka Okoroha, a computer science major from Bowie State University in Maryland, is delighted to be at NDSU working in the laboratory of Samee Khan, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering.
“It has been an amazing experience so far,” Okoroha said. “I was given the chance to meet other brilliant individuals from different universities and backgrounds. Having the opportunity to meet and work with a research adviser enhanced the experience for me and provides me with an upper hand when it comes to applying to graduate school. I am happy to be a part of this program and hope others take advantage of it.”