The U.S. geosciences workforce does not reflect the diversity of the U.S. population, and the American Geophysical Union’s Bridge program aims to fix that. AGU founded the new program to improve recruitment and retention of underrepresented minorities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics graduate programs. CSU’s Department of Atmospheric Science was one of 14 institutions chosen as a partner in the program’s first round.
“The department applied because it strongly feels that diversity on our campus strengthens our entire scientific community,” said Associate Department Head and Professor Eric Maloney. “We are continually seeking new partnerships to increase diversity within our program.”
Maloney led the department’s application, along with Professors Emily Fischer, Jim Hurrell, Jeff Pierce and Kristen Rasmussen, and Walter Scott, Jr. College of Engineering Assistant Dean for Diversity and Inclusion Melissa Burt. AGU received 52 applications from hopeful Bridge partners, representing 20 percent of the 250 active Earth and space science graduate programs in the United States. Through a rigorous review process, AGU assessed each institution’s ability to support and mentor underrepresented students.
“I think our department was chosen because it has a history of developing innovative programs to increase diversity,” said Maloney. “It has a history of successful mentorship of underrepresented minority students who have gone on to prestigious positions in atmospheric science, and we also presented novel ideas for improved mentoring strategies for future underrepresented minority students in our program.”
Partners will have access to the Bridge program’s student applicant database, so they can find and recruit qualified students from underrepresented groups who are interested in geoscience graduate studies. Partners also will be listed on the AGU and Bridge program websites.
To be accepted into the program, students must exhibit academic promise, must not have applied to graduate school, or must have applied but were not accepted. A free common application, to be shared with multiple partner institutions, is available for qualifying students. Bridge students gain access to professional development opportunities, connections to faculty who can serve as mentors, and connections to other students in the program who share their experiences.
“Having a more diverse student body is not only desirable from a fairness standpoint, but it also produces better science,” said Maloney.