FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | September 06, 2018

ACS part of new alliance to bolster underrepresented students in physical sciences

WASHINGTON, Sept. 6, 2018 — The American Chemical Society (ACS) is one of five leading scientific societies that have formed the Inclusive Graduate Education Network (IGEN) to increase the participation of women and underrepresented racial and ethnic minorities in graduate studies in the physical sciences.

The American Physical Society (APS) leads the five-year, $10 million IGEN program — one of five “Alliance” proposals funded through the National Science Foundation’s (NSF’s) INCLUDES (Inclusion across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering and Science) initiative. Altogether, the IGEN Alliance will involve more than 30 scientific societies, educational institutions, corporations, national laboratories and other organizations.

“Through IGEN, ACS has an important opportunity to shift the needle in the chemical education landscape and achieve equity for underrepresented students,” says Joerg Schlatterer, Ph.D., a member of the IGEN management team and the ACS project director. “NSF’s strong support makes this work possible.”

The percentages of women and underrepresented racial and ethnic minorities who participate in physical sciences decline in graduate school compared to undergraduate programs. There are various reasons for this trend, but over the past six years, an effort called the APS Bridge Program has demonstrated effective ways to eliminate the participation gap between undergraduate and graduate students in physics.

Now, APS, ACS, the American Geophysical Union, the American Astronomical Society and the Materials Research Society have banded together to apply the lessons and methods learned through the APS Bridge Program to a spectrum of physical science disciplines. ACS will focus on participation in graduate programs in the chemical sciences.

“When we started the APS Bridge Program six years ago, we had no idea how much community support would materialize,” says Theodore Hodapp, Ph.D., IGEN project lead and director of project development at the APS. “Propagating this throughout physical science disciplines, and simultaneously confronting how admissions and retention issues are addressed in graduate education, was an obvious next step to both expand the impact of this strategy and sustain it for the long run.”

Key components of IGEN include improving mentoring of undergraduates, modifying graduate admissions practices and recruiting large numbers of underrepresented students who would otherwise not enter graduate studies.

ACS will receive more than $2.3 million over five years to establish bridge sites at five educational institutions to prepare underrepresented students for the transition from undergraduate to graduate education in the chemical sciences. The ACS bridge program is designed to go beyond standard metrics and emphasize the full potential of the person represented by the graduate school application.

The American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society, is a not-for-profit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. ACS is a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related information and research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. ACS does not conduct research, but publishes and publicizes peer-reviewed scientific studies. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

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