HHMI is working with the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), Pennsylvania State University, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, three institutions with documented success in fostering diversity in the sciences, on a five-year project to learn, through meticulous assessment, how to implement essential features of the Meyerhoff Scholars Program at more universities.

The Meyerhoff Scholars Program at UMBC is a national powerhouse in fostering diversity in the sciences. Each year, the program admits 50 to 70 students. More than 900 students have graduated as Meyerhoff Scholars since 1993, with alumni earning nearly 600 PhDs, MDs, master’s, and other professional degrees. The program’s success is built on its core foundational values of building community, mentoring by peers and faculty members, instilling high expectations, intensely preparing students, and focusing on big-picture goals.

Today, about one-third of the U.S. population is African American, Hispanic, or Native American, yet less than one-tenth of the scientific workforce comes from underrepresented minority groups. Unless it is addressed effectively, this disparity will grow rapidly. The U.S. population will become “majority minority” in 2042, and people who are 18 years old or younger—the country’s future talent pool—will become “majority minority” in 2018.

Despite the acknowledged need to increase diversity among scientists, and despite the well-documented success of the Meyerhoff Scholars Program at UMBC, the program has not been replicated at other universities. Other programs, many supported by federal grants, utilize individual elements similar to parts of the Meyerhoff Program, but none employ the comprehensive Meyerhoff Program strategy. This project examines the challenges and solutions that will lead to adapting the full Meyerhoff Scholars Program to fit the environment and culture of differing campuses.

Photo credit: Tim Ford for UMBC