UMES receives $30M from NOAA to continue research opportunities, expand diversity in STEM
PRINCESS ANNE, Md. – The push for more diversity in the STEM field is only getting stronger on the local level. That’s thanks to a new round of funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration given to the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.
“The primary reason is to recruit students into marine fisheries science. That’s our primary goal, and the other goal is to conduct research,” said Dr. Paulinus Chigbu, director of UMES’ NOAA Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center (LMRCSC).
The LMRCSC at UMES is one of two NOAA Cooperative Science Centers at historically black colleges and universities. The program helps train students in coastal and marine ecosystems, as well as in living marine resources science and management. The LMRCSC is lead by UMES and consists of seven partner educational institutions. That includes Delaware State University and the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science.
$30 million will help to continue that effort over the next five years at UMES. Students say they’re excited to keep making progress, thanks to this funding. “It’s beyond fantastic. I think the ability to do this kind of research and develop the skills in your undergraduate career, and adding to that CV at this point in time is incredibly important,” said Teemer Barry, a senior studying environmental science with a focus on marine sciences.
But the funding won’t just continue funding for research opportunities. Dr. Chigbu says it will help pave the way for students to possibly work at NOAA facilities one day. “One of the ways that we train students other than research at the center, is to take part in a 12 week internship at NOAA facilities,” said Dr. Chigbu. “It creates an opportunity for them to work with scientists, working at the national marine fisheries. So, they learn more about the way things are conducted at the agency.”
Students say they’re already seeing those opportunities open up in front of them, whether it be getting their foot in the door at NOAA, or connecting with those on a similar path. “I’ve talked with a number of professors and met a number of mentors through my time here. Through my internships, I’ve managed to talk to a lot of people at NOAA Fisheries,” said Barry. “I’ve also been put in touch with people at the NOAA CESSRST program at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. So, I’m curious to see where it will take me.”
But the potential for greatness doesn’t just stop at campus boundaries. Dr. Chigbu says the students taking advantage of these opportunities will help build a more diverse and effective STEM field in the future. “We conduct our research to have an impact on the community. When we recruit a diverse pool of students, it helps us to reach communities – especially underserved communities,” said Dr. Chigbu.