The Northeast Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professorate (NEAGEP) welcomed a record number of new NEAGEP Fellows to STEM doctoral programs at UMass Amherst this year. NEAGEP, established in 1999, is an alliance of 15 institutions that work together to increase the number of students from underrepresented groups who obtain STEM PhD degrees. At UMass Amherst, NEAGEP activities have been leveraged to obtain to NIH Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD) and Postbaccalaureate Research Education Program grants totaling over $5 million. The activities of these programs are designed to increase engagement of all segments of the U.S. population in the STEM workforce.
Sandra Petersen, Director of NEAGEP, says that the incoming class of 19 is the largest ever and the students have a wide range of interests and geographic roots. Petersen notes “we are heartened to see this large incoming class because a record 12 NEAGEP/IMSD fellows graduated in 2014-15 and a similar number is likely to finish in each of the next two years and beyond. When we started, less than 1% of the total STEM PhDs awarded to all students and 2% to U.S. students were from underrepresented groups. Those numbers have now increased by five-fold, but we have a long way to go to meet the national need for U.S. scientists and engineers. This need is growing as we approach the time when people from races/ethnicities currently underrepresented in the U.S. population will make up the majority."