Graduate Assistantships in Areas of National Need

Submission January 2012
Funded in September 2012 for $535,000
Funds provided partial stipends and research support for 15 students over a 5-yearperiod.

Meeting the purposes of the program: General and specific objective
The purpose of the Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) Fellowship Program at the University of Mississippi (UM) Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry will be to attract and graduate US citizens and permanent residents who

  • have excellent academic preparation for doctoral graduate work,
  • have a desire to pursue a PhD in Chemistry and Biochemistry,
  • demonstrate financial need, and
  • express a commitment to a career in academia.

There are two critical components of the GAANN Program that are particularly relevant to the Department’s long-range plan to sustain and enhance teaching and research in this region. First, the GAANN Fellowship Program embodies our departmental goal of increasing our profile regionally as an institution that promotes excellence by offering a prestigious merit-based award to students that is focused on increasing enrollment of underrepresented groups. Secondly, in the current economic environment, this Fellowship Program will relieve the financial obstacles that may prevent many such students from pursuing an advanced degree. The need-based criterion of the GAANN Fellowship Program will resonate with economically disadvantaged students by providing a high-profile fellowship opportunity to underrepresented students with financial need, while stressing academic excellence in graduate education. These talented students, once trained, will fill the incredible regional need for teaching and research in chemical sciences, both in academia and industry. Funding to support four GAANN Fellows with federal funding is requested, with a fifth fellow to be supported with matching funds.

The goals of this program will be attained by following these specific objectives:

(1) To increase the number of domestic pre-doctoral graduate students in the Department by recruiting five GAANN Fellows in the first year. Currently, the Department has a domestic graduate student population of 57%. The addition of five GAANN Fellows would increase that ratio. A specific objective of our plan is to achieve a 5% increase in domestic students during the three years of the award period (Current: 22/42, Goal: 29/47).

(2) To increase the number of our graduate students from traditionally underserved groups in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, age, and disability status.These categories of students represent 48% (15 women, 7 African-Americans, 2 Hispanic) of the total graduate population (20/42) in the Department. Women represent 36%, Hispanic students represent 5%, and African-Americans are 17% of the current total population. Our population of domestic minority or underrepresented students is high –58% (14/24) of domestic students fall within these categories, where 28% of the domestic student population is female, 29% is African-American, and 8% is Hispanic. Since 2003 the Department has graduated 12 students with a Ph.D. who fall within these categories: four African-Americans and nine women.

(3) To retain our GAANN Fellows through graduation. We plan close supervision of the GAANN Fellows through regular meetings with the Research Advisor, Doctoral Committee, GAANN Program Directors and GAANN Advisory Committee. Further, the Department guarantees support to GAANN Fellows that are making adequate progress toward their degree for the duration of their degree through Teaching Assistantships (TAs) and Research Assistantships (RAs).

(4) To graduate GAANN Fellows with enhanced teaching, research, and professional skills. GAANN Fellows will participate in a tiered teaching experience that is designed to systematically improve their communication skills in a several instructional settings. GAANN Fellows will create a “Teaching Portfolio” that is designed to showcase the breadth of their experience and their accomplishments. Further, through their Research Advisor and the GAANN Award, GAANN Fellows will attend professional meetings and workshops designed to improve their professional skills and to network with other scientists in their field.