Inclusion and Diversity Initiatives Enhance Health Research and Workforce

Achievement date: 
2018
Outcome/accomplishment: 

Texas A&M University (TAMU) researchers conducted outreach and training activities in 2018 to advance and maintain a culture of inclusiveness, minimize bias, and maximize the effectiveness of efforts to improve the paradigm for the health of underserved populations. These initiatives were led by the NSF-funded Precise Advanced Technologies and Health Systems for Underserved Populations (PATHS-UP) Engineering Research Center (ERC), which is headquartered at TAMU, with partners from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), Rice University, and Florida International University (FIU).

Impact/benefits: 

PATHS-UP sees diversity of human capital as a key to the success of its mission to develop technologies and systems at the point of care that are accessible and affordable for all. To that end, Center personnel participate in conferences and events to recruit students, host workshops and seminars, and provide mentoring and mentor training. The Center also facilitates participation of people from underrepresented groups in education programs for pre-college teachers, high school students, and college undergraduates. These activities form a pipeline from STEM student to potential researcher and faculty. Among the conferences PATHS-UP people attended in 2018 were the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science, the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students, the Society for Hispanic Professional Engineers, the Ronald McNair Conference at FIU, as well as the Houston Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation program at Texas Southern University, a Historically Black College and University. PATHS-UP also strives for a gender-balanced leadership team, develops “culture of inclusiveness” games for sites such as FairPlayGame, and in 2018 hosted three workshops with notable guest speakers, including seminars on bias training and mentoring, and a WebEx faculty panel across all four partner organizations.

Explanation/Background: 

To attract and retain undergraduate and graduate STEM students from underrepresented groups, PATHS-UP faculty participate in at least three events each year to recruit underrepresented minority undergraduate/graduate students, place underrepresented STEM undergraduate students in research programs, and encourage high school students from underserved communities to participate in summer learning programs and ultimately pursue STEM careers. They also invite underrepresented professors and scholars to deliver seminars and talks to PATHS-UP students.

PATHS-UP diversity targets are a number of undergraduate/graduate student scholars that is better than the national engineering averages for underrepresented groups in STEM, and a faculty population that is >20% diverse, including women, persons with disabilities, African Americans, Hispanic-Americans, and other racial groups underrepresented in engineering.