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Integration Of Interdisciplinary Graduate Research And Education Through The Institutionalization Of Diversity Initiatives

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Mentoring Graduate Students

Tagged Division

Graduate Studies

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.802.1 - 11.802.8



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Paper Authors


Shekhar Bhansali University of South Florida

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BERNARD BATSON, Coordinator of Special Programs in the College of Engineering, University of South Florida, serves as the day-to-day administrator for the NSF IGERT SKINS Program, the 2004 and 2005 NSF FGLSAMP Bridge to the Doctorate Programs and the Alfred P. Sloan Minority Ph.D. Program in the College of Engineering. He coordinates a series of personal development activities for graduate fellows at USF and is involved in national outreach activities with special emphasis on students from underrepresented groups. Mr. Batson has served as a guest panelist on national forums promoting interdisciplinary research and graduate opportunities for students in STEM disciplines.

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Ashanti Pyrtle University of South Florida

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DR. ASHANTI J. PYRTLE is an Assistant Professor at the College of Marine Science, University of South Florida. She received her B.S. (1993) in Marine Science from Texas A&M University-Galveston and her PhD. (1999) in Oceanography from Texas A&M University. Her research focuses on the utilization of biogeochemical indicators to interpret past events that have impacted the aquatic environment. Dr. Pyrtle also directs several initiatives designed to facilitate research and professional development experiences for students representing diverse socioeconomic, cultural, racial and academic backgrounds.

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Louis Martin-Vega University of South Florida

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Dr. LOUIS A. MARTIN-VEGA is the Dean of the College of Engineering and Professor of Industrial and Management Systems Engineering at the University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida, a position he has held since 2001. He received a Ph.D. degree in Industrial and Systems Engineering from the University of Florida. Dr. Martin-Vega served as Acting Assistant Director for Engineering at the National Science Foundation during 2000-2001 as well as the Director of NSF’s Division of Design, Manufacture and Industrial Innovation from 1998 to 2000. He is the author or co-author of over 80 journal papers, book chapters and technical articles. Dr. Martin-Vega has been recognized nationally for his advocacy of increased participation of underrepresented minorities in science, technology, mathematics, and engineering (STEM) programs.

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Peter Betzer University of South Florida

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DR. PETER R. BETZER, Dean and Professor, College of Marine Science, joined the University of South Florida in 1971. He received a B.A. in geology from Lawrence College (1964) and a Ph.D. in chemical oceanography (1971) from the University of Rhode Island. His research interests are in the realm of aquatic geochemistry. He has authored over 60 publications in journals and books. Dr. Betzer has received local, national and international recognition for his research and leadership and has presented several invited lectures at various locations throughout the US, as well as in Soviet Union, Australia, England and China.

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Integration of Interdisciplinary Graduate Research Education through the Institutionalization of Diversity Initiatives


This paper presents the University of South Florida's novel and multi-faceted approach to integrating interdisciplinary graduate research and education with an institutional diversity initiative. Beginning with the NSF Integrative Graduate Education Research and Trainee (IGERT) program, USF has developed the infrastructure for interdisciplinary research-training, while focusing on minority graduate recruitment. IGERT provides students with significant financial support to explore interdisciplinary research areas. The program requires a team of advisors from distinct disciplines to co-advise and supervise graduate research. This approach has also been successfully applied with the minority-focused NSF Florida Georgia Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (FGLSAMP) Bridge to the Doctorate program. The successes have led to certification of mentors in all departments/disciplines at USF’s Colleges of Engineering and Marine Science under the Alfred P. Sloan Foundations’ minority PhD fellowship program.


It is becoming increasingly evident that the next generation of scientists will be required to work in a collaborative and interdisciplinary manner to make significant scientific breakthroughs and solve complex problems. It is also evident that the emerging workplace will not only be dominated by interdisciplinary challenges, but will also be culturally diverse. Given the decline in the enrollment of international students within U.S. science and engineering programs our universities will need to attract and integrate more minority students in our PhD programs, especially if they expect to maintain robust graduate programs.

Current statistics confirm a continuing steep decline in the enrollment of international students in U.S universities. The recent “Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange”1 , published by IIE shows a 6% decrease in overall international student population for AY 2004- 2005 compared to 2.4% in 2003-2004. There is increasing realization among industries, educational institutions and scientific associations that the declining pool of qualified graduate students, can lead to yet another set of challenges in the long term competitiveness of the US economy.

Funding agencies have attempted to address the declining trend in higher education enrollments by launching programs that aim to make graduate education more exciting and rewarding. This effort is manifested in NSF’s IGERT program which encourages research at the intersection of disciplines. Yet another NSF program, Bridge to the Doctorate, facilitates recruitment of students who would traditionally not pursue graduate studies. Critical to the success of these programs is the US academic institutions’ ability to transform themselves and identify the pool of students in order to recruit them.

This paper presents the University of South Florida's novel and multi-faceted approach to integrating interdisciplinary graduate research and education with a set of bottom up,

Bhansali, S., & Pyrtle, A., & Martin-Vega, L., & Betzer, P. (2006, June), Integration Of Interdisciplinary Graduate Research And Education Through The Institutionalization Of Diversity Initiatives Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--1405

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