It’s widely known that blacks are underrepresented in the field of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). In 2009 only 2 percent of the more than 5,000 Ph.D.’s earned in materials science were awarded to black students. That’s why 10 years ago Clark Atlanta University committed to reversing this trend.
New data released by CAU’s Center for Functional Nanoscale Materials (CFNM) suggests the efforts are beginning to pay off. Since the CFNM was founded in 2006, CAU has produced a whopping 21 black Ph.D.’s. This number accounts for the most Black Ph.D.’s graduating from CAU in materials science than any HBCU in the nation. It’s also among the top producers of black Ph.D.’s at any institution of higher learning in the U.S.
Clark Atlanta’s Ph.D. graduates now earn at least six-figure salaries working in some of the top research labs in the country, including the United States EPA, Jacobs Engineering, L’Oreal Corporation, and the United States Department of Treasury. Yet even with these strides, CAU recognizes there is a lot more work to be done to increase the number of blacks earning Ph.D.’s in materials science. In fact, one of the goals of the CFNM is to annually graduate 10 black Ph.D. students by 2021.
“CFNM has provided opportunities for underrepresented black scientists to achieve success beyond that of their peers at majority white institutions,” said physics professor Dr. Michael D. Williams. “This has been accomplished through close mentoring, a rigorous educational program and exposure to state-of-the-art instrumentation and computational facilities,” he continued.
CAU is on track this academic year to continue graduating an unprecedented number of black Ph.D.’s. CFNM director Dr. Ishrat Khanexpects as many as four students to receive their doctorate in 2017. “We have a 100 percent retention rate with doctoral students, and once they complete our program students get high-paying, quality jobs,” explained Khan, who is also a full professor of chemistry at CAU and a world-renowned researcher.
The Center for Functional Nanoscale Materials is primarily funded by grants from the National Science Foundation. Another of its core missions is to increase the capacity of CAU to train talented scientists in the physical sciences. The Center is also multi-institutional, including Morehouse College, Emory University, and Cornell University to name a few. It’s highly interdisciplinary with faculty from both the chemistry and physics departments serving as mentors to students.
“CFNM is a place to grow and develop in a truly supportive and nurturing environment,” Khan said.
Source: Clark Atlanta University