Multidisciplinary STEM Solutions LSAMP Bridge to the Doctorate

  • Castillo-Chavez, Carlos (PI)

Project: Research project

Project Details


Overview Empowering the Nation through Discovery and Innovation, the National Science Foundations strategic plan for fiscal years 2011-2016, recognizes that investing in science and engineering (S&E including the mathematical sciences) is a critical component of the nations roadmap to long-lasting prosperity in a globally interconnected world. This document further contends that maintaining our preeminence in science and technology consequently hinges on the nations scientific enterprises ability to be broadly inclusive-- seeking and including contributions from all sources while reaching out, especially to groups that are underrepresented in S&E. The Multidisciplinary STEm Solutions LSAMP - Bridge to the Doctorate Program focuses on national human resource priorities of the mathematical sciences (math sciences) through the recruitment of 12 under-represented minority (URM) students from ASU and LSAMP institutions into their masters degree programs, to prepare and inspire them to pursue PhD degrees in the math sciences or related fields and enter the professoriate or the workforce at levels where they will make a difference; while building the critical mass of mathematicians that brings the problem of underrepresentation to extinction. Intellectual Merit Key hypothesis: Providing incentives to qualified URM students in a highly multidisciplinary environment and mentoring them to apply their knowledge and skills within centers engaged in societally-relevant problem solving will motivate them to move from a masters program to a doctoral program best suited for their intellectual goals. One of the most important incentives for students to enroll and succeed in the masters program is the stipend ($30,000 per year) plus tuition provided by the Bridge to the Doctorate program. Given that most masters programs in these disciplines rarely provide strong financial support, the financial aid provided by the BD will be, without a doubt, a great incentive to seek additional training at the end of the BS. Assignment of a faculty mentor in the math sciences in addition to their chosen advisor to serves as an explicit role modeling, to provide oversight of academic progress, and offer the cultural-emotional support that often make the difference in the success of URM students. We have experienced, trained faculty to do this well, including five MTBI alumni and four URMs as members of the ASU math sciences faculty. The PI of this project has chaired 27 PhD committees in the math sciences, including those of 14 US URMs. Hence, ASUs supply of first-rate, area-specific URM mentors guarantees that this critical component of the BD is faithfully and efficiently carried out. For several years, the PI has studied best practices and ways to instill the necessary self-confidence in URMs to undertake graduate studies, including studies that have made use of collaborative learning and the commonalities or relevant ingredients found in the work of Piaget, Vygostky and Bandura in creating an environment where success, publications and earning advanced degrees are the norm. The model put in place and developed by MTBI for 17 years will be at the heart of the community of learners established by the LSAMP cohort. Broader Impacts ASU will increase the number of URMs pursuing PhDs in the math sciences or related fields by recruiting and mentoring 12 new URM MS students per year, 8 of whom (75%),will enter a PhD program. This Brdie to the Doctorate (BD) program will address obstacles to obtaining a PhD. BD Fellowships will be augmented with funds from other existing opportunities for support: NSF Graduate Fellowship, ARCS, Sloan Fellowship Program; AMLSS and SoMSS, GAANN fellowships; ASU Graduate School Fellowships; as well as TAs and RAs. This will allow us to increase our PhD US URM graduation rate from an average of 4-4.5/year to an average of 6-6.5/year, almost twice the number of graduates from (currently) our strongest competitors, the University of Iowa and North Carolina State. Iowa graduates between 3-4 PhDs per year, with roughly half Latinos and NC State graduates roughly 3 African Americans per year.
Effective start/end date5/1/144/30/17


  • National Science Foundation (NSF): $987,000.00


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