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Coalition for Diversifying Science

Collaborating to recruit, retain, and invest in our students and faculty

Niesha holds up a slide while seated at lab bench wearing lab coat, gloves, and mask.
Photo by Melissa Vergara for Virginia Tech.

our mission

The Coalition for Diversifying Science is a collaboration between college and university inclusion and diversity initiatives. Through partnership we work to coordinate a comprehensive program that advances the College of Science’s efforts to recruit, retain, and invest in students from populations who have been historically marginalized, under-served, and under-represented in science.

Goals & Objectives

  • to increase the diversity of undergraduate students who apply to, enroll, and graduate from the College of Science;
  • to recruit and prepare a diverse population of undergraduate students for graduate degree programs and for scientific careers,
  • to increase the awareness of the scientific disciplines, and possible career paths, to a diverse population of students;
  • to provide academic support and community building activities.

Initiatives

Undergraduate Students

We want the College of Science to be a place where students can explore their cultural identity and science identity all at once. Our undergraduate initiatives focus on the intersection of those identities, providing students academic support, community building, and career readiness. See our College of Science calendar for most up to date information!

Every two weeks, our Inclusion & Diversity team hosts a workshop to support students’ classroom learning. Topics include finding undergraduate research, learning more about graduate school, and developing better study skills.

 It can be difficult to make connections during class, so the College of Science hosts Community Nights for students across campus. We partner with the Cultural & Community Centers, the Women’s Center, First Generation Student Support and more to provide a range of spaces for students to connect.

We know the transition into college can be challenging and we want to provide students with the support they need. Incoming freshmen from underrepresented and underserved communities can sign up to have a mentor in their first fall semester. They will meet with their peer mentor, an upperclassman with a similar academic and cultural background, once a week for the first 13 weeks of the semester. Incoming freshmen should check their VT email for more information the summer before they arrive on campus.

In partnership with the College of Science Inclusion & Diversity Committee, we host an Undergraduate Research Mixer once a semester. At this mixer, faculty and graduate students present their research to undergraduates to recruit students for their labs. Finding undergraduate research can be daunting, so our mixer breaks down barriers between faculty and students and facilitates the research process.

The Student Opportunity & Achievement Resources (SOAR) Program provides holistic support to underrepresented minority students through one on one coaching and collaboration with academic units. We are supporting SOAR in their goal of reaching each and every underrepresented minority student in the College of Science. Meet our SOAR Coach, Seth Sterlin.

Graduate Students

The College of Science has invested $40,000 a year in our Dean's Graduate Awards for Excellence (DGAE). These awards will provide up to $4,000 during a student’s first 3 years of graduate study to support student research for diverse graduate students being offered graduate admission. Funds may be used to cover expenses such as conference travel, summer stipend, equipment, books, etc. This initiative seeks to enhance the success of students from these populations, thereby bolstering diversity from underrepresented or underserved groups within a specific field or discipline, and with a focus on drawing students from within the United States. Since this program was launched in 2018, we have made 49 offers with 21 acceptances.

Faculty Engagement

This is a yearly fellowship program designed to support faculty or staff in the College of Science who are interested in assisting the COS Director of Inclusion and Diversity in planning, implementing, coordinating, and assessing the College's efforts in advancing inclusivity for, and diversity of, all the stakeholders in the College: students, faculty, and staff. These fellows propose goals/programs/plans they would like to initiate in the coming year. Such proposals might include support for current faculty, programs for undergraduates, and/or outreach. Each fellowship comes with a $4,000 stipend and access to a budget to support the enactment of programs and initiatives.

Applications are accepted by Sept 30, with awards granted on the calendar year.

Recent awardees

As an inaugural fellow, Alma Robinson, a Teacher in Residence in the physics department, is developing curricula that College of Science First-Year Experience faculty could easily implement in their classrooms to talk about race, gender, and LGBTQ+ representation issues with their students.

Dr. Meryl Mims, an assistant professor of biological sciences and the other inaugural fellow, is spending her fellowship expanding a workshop program she designed to support students applying for the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP). This expansion will feature a special focus and emphasis on mentoring and supporting students from traditionally underrepresented and underserved populations.

Partners

August 19, 2021 - Virginia Tech students hang out on campus during Welcome Week. (Photo by Mary Desmond/Virginia Tech)

Virginia Tech students hang out on campus during Welcome Week.

Student Opportunities & Achievement Resources (SOAR) Program

Creating Technologies MFA student Rodney Kimbangu harvesting beans in the Indigenous Garden.

Cultural & Community Centers

student with VT flag studying in antarctica

Multicultural Academic Opportunities Program

female student research pipets into tube

Office for Undergraduate Research

Lonnie Gonsalves. Photo courtesy Lonnie Gonsalves. Scientist Lonnie Gonsalves squats on a beach, its sand wet, while holding wires and other pieces of hardware.

Scientist Lonnie Gonsalves squats on a beach, its sand wet, while holding wires and other pieces of hardware.

College of Science Departmental Committees

students gather around a computer

First Generation Student Support

Hokie Transfer Community logo

Transfer Student Initiatives

Long-time Virginia Tech professors Jay Stipes and Harry Dorn sit in the latter's office laughing and reminiscing about a 150-year old book that belonged to a Virginia Tech chemist. Both men are wearing Hokie gear and sports coats. Photo by Melissa Vergara.

Inclusive Excellence at VT

Programs

Funding Opportunities for Current Students and Faculty 

The College of Science, as administered by the College’s Inclusion and Diversity Committee and Director for Inclusion and Diversity, supports a wide range of events and programs. These funds are geared towards supporting under-represented and underserved scholars and diversity, equity, and inclusion focused efforts and research. Such funding opportunities may include:

  • Hosting a Speaker
  • Events and Programs
  • Undergraduate and Graduate Student Research Projects
  • Outreach Initiatives
  • Travel Support for Conferences

We ask that, for any funding from the COS Inclusion and Diversity Committee, you also seek matching funds. This could come from your home department or any of the funding opportunities found across the university, including:

We will be accepting proposals for funding three times per year: at the beginning of fall and spring semesters, and at the end of April. We expect that the majority of proposals received at the end of April will be for summer research opportunities and outreach events.

Requests can be made by email to Dr. Estrella Johnson, Assistant Dean for Inclusion and Diversity, at strej@vt.edu.