AGEP-T: Collaborative Research: Advancing Interdisciplinary STEM Graduate Education in Energy and Sustainability Disciplines
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The Texas A&M University System (TAMU) Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate was created in response to the NSF''s Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) program solicitation (NSF 12-554) for the AGEP-Transformation (AGEP-T) track. The AGEP-T track targets strategic alliances of institutions and organizations to develop, implement, and study innovative evidence-based models and standards for STEM graduate education, postdoctoral training, and academic STEM career preparation that eliminate or mitigate negative factors and promote positive practices for URMs.The TAMU Alliance is a collaboration between five doctoral degree granting institutions who are members of the Texas A&M University System, to advance URMs around the unifying theme of Energy and Sustainability. The collaborating institutions include: Texas A&M University Main Campus (TAMUMC), Texas A&M University-Kingsville (TAMU-K), Prairie View A&M University (PVAMU), West Texas A&M University (WTAMU), and Texas A&M University Corpus Christi (TAMUCC). These institutions are engaging the following non-doctoral degree institutions who are also members of the Texas A&M University System: Texas A&M International University (TAMUI), Texas A&M-San Antonio (TAMUSA), Texas A&M-Texarkana (TAMUT), Tarleton State University (TSU), and Texas A&M-Commerce (TAMUC).The vision of the collaboration is to develop an AGEP Alliance that opens multiple paths to the doctorate and professoriate for underrepresented minority (URM) populations by successfully developing and sustaining large-scale, distributed, yet interconnected STEM communities among the diverse Alliance institutions that increase participation, reduce barriers, and promote success of URM doctoral students preparing for careers in the professoriate.The long-term goal of the TAMU AGEP Alliance is to increase the number of successful URM STEM faculty by measurably increasing the number of STEM doctoral degrees awarded to URM students each year and increasing the number of underrepresented minorities (URMs) transitioning to STEM faculty positions (or to competitive postdocs that lead to faculty positions).The short-term operational goal of the TAMU AGEP Alliance is to develop, implement and assess a set of transportable strategies to ultimately increase the number of successful URM STEM faculty by increasing the number of URMs who enter participating doctoral programs, the percentage of URMs completing STEM doctoral degrees, and the number who transition to faculty positions (or to competitive postdoctoral positions), and by reducing their time to doctoral degree.There are four defined objectives for the TAMU AGEP Alliance participants, who are all U.S. citizens, who are URMs in STEM. The Alliance defines a student participant as an URM U.S. citizen, with a demonstrated interest in energy and sustainability, who is classified as a doctoral or master degree student. Objectives follow:Objective 1. Increase the number of URMs entering STEM doctoral degree programs at the five collaborating TAMU AGEP institutions.Objective 2. Reduce the average time to degree for the TAMU AGEP Alliance URM STEM doctoral students, and increase the percentage of students across the Alliance completing their doctoral degree in five years.Objective 3. Provide the TAMU AGEP Alliance students with the preparation necessary to compete for faculty positions and increase the number of URMs transitioning from STEM Ph.D. programs to faculty or competitive postdoctoral positions.Objective 4. Foster TAMU research collaborations to support Alliance-wide collaboration with undergraduate, master''s and PhD student researchers that will result in an increase in the number of URM STEM doctoral research dissertations co-advised by faculty from at least 2 partner institutions.The interventions that form the model for the TAMU AGEP Alliance include: joint institutional recruitment of URM doctoral STEM students; participation of institutions and prospective students in an annual alliance conference; use of regional travel, a virtual social network, and webinars to provide community building and joint mentoring opportunities for AGEP doctoral students; student retention stipends based on level of project participation and timely progress toward degree; student participation in research and professional development training conferences, a mini-grant competition for research seed funding, a learning community, and transitioning activities for post-doctoral fellowship placement and/or faculty positions; and engage faculty in cross-institutional collaborations and partnerships with the NSF-funded Research Coordination Network (RCN-SEES): Climate, Energy, Environment and Engagement in Semiarid Regions (CE3SAR).The TAMU AGEP Alliance social science research study focuses on two questions related to feelings of inclusion of URM STEM graduate students at each of the Alliance institutions in both experimental and applied settings:1) What effect does experiencing isolation or ostracism have on the productivity and progress of URM STEM graduate students and their intentions to continue to the professoriate?2) What factors (e.g., institutional, interpersonal, individual) promote or mediate against URM STEM students'' experiencing feelings of isolation or ostracism?