The University of California, Riverside has awarded nine first-year graduate students an annual stipend of $30,000 for two years to increase underrepresented minority students in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) at the doctoral level. In addition to the stipend that covers living expenses, each student’s graduate tuition and fees are fully covered.

Funded by a $988,000, two-year training grant from the National Science Foundation to the university, the awards are given out by the California Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation Bridge to the Doctorate (CAMP-BD) graduate student activity that is designed to attract underrepresented minority students in STEM disciplines to UC Riverside from not only California but also the rest of the country.

The CAMP-BD activity provides professional development to students to encourage their participation at state and local professional conferences, and assists them in applying to postdoctoral programs.

“The goal of the CAMP-BD awards is to increase the number of ethnically underrepresented students completing STEM doctoral degrees by offering recipients the opportunity to enroll in a graduate degree program without the financial burden typically associated with graduate education,” said Rich Cardullo, the lead investigator at UCR of the NSF grant (the principal investigator is UC Irvine Chancellor Michael Drake) and the UCR faculty director of the CAMP program.

Cardullo explained that first-generation students from underrepresented minorities are often subject to much pressure to go to law school, medical school and other professional schools.

“But we also have a strong need for next generation scientists, engineers and educators with Ph.D.s who are underrepresented minorities,” he said. “The CAMP-BD awards aim at closing the gap. We awarded six fellowships last quarter. We are pleased to be able to add three more students to the mix this quarter.”

The nine students selected for the awards are:

Mackenzie Alvarez (chemistry), Jesse Benavides (mathematics), Carla De Los Santos (bioengineering), Edward Laguna (chemistry), Abdullah Madany (biomedical sciences), Maricela Maldonado (bioengineering), Irma Ortiz (botany and plant sciences), Jessamine Quijano (microbiology), and Phillip Soto (microbiology).