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Erika Lee
University Graduate School

Steve Hinnefeld
University Communications

Last modified: Wednesday, March 25, 2009

IU Bloomington joins effort for graduate science education for minority students

March 25, 2009

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University Bloomington has become a member of the National GEM Consortium, an organization that for more than 30 years has helped underrepresented minority students enroll and succeed in graduate-level higher education.

IU faculty and administrators say the membership will greatly assist their effort to increase graduate student diversity in the STEM disciplines: science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

"Indiana University will now be on the map as a GEM member," said Michael Edwards, IU Bloomington's faculty representative to the organization. "All the STEM disciplines on campus will have access to a database to recruit minority students, and these students will know there is a support system here for them."

Lab photo

An IU graduate student works in a lab.

Print-Quality Photo

The National GEM Consortium was established in the 1970s as a network of corporate and university partners dedicated to increasing the number of minority students earning graduate degrees in engineering and science. Officially the National Consortium for Graduate Degrees for Minorities in Engineering and Science Inc., it is a nonprofit corporation with the core business of providing graduate fellowships for highly qualified individuals from communities where human capital is virtually untapped.

Corporate partners provide financial support and offer supervised internships for GEM fellows while they are in graduate school. For IU Bloomington, that support will come from SABIC Innovative Plastics, which has long supported diversity in science education at IU through its facility in Mt. Vernon, Ind.

"SABIC Innovative Plastics has always had a strong interest in hiring diverse talent for our business. We are excited to be a corporate participant in GEM at Indiana University as it allows us to establish a pipeline of local, diverse talent for our technical positions. This is one of the best programs we've seen of this nature," said Ken Miller, global technology manager for SABIC in Mt. Vernon.

Yolanda Treviño, assistant dean of the University Graduate School, said IU Bloomington's membership in the GEM Consortium builds on efforts undertaken through the Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP), funded by a five-year grant from the National Science Foundation. IU Bloomington is part of the Midwest Crossroads AGEP with Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Purdue University and Northwestern University.

Treviño said it is important to American competitiveness to ensure that underrepresented groups -- including African-American, Hispanic, American Indian and women students -- have the skills necessary to successfully pursue a graduate education in the STEM disciplines.

"The National Science Foundation says the U.S. has more work to do, and we need to focus and invest more in these areas," she said.

Edwards, clinical assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry and the School of Public and Environmental Affairs, reached out to GEM after learning that membership in the consortium was an issue for several potential graduate students that IU Bloomington was recruiting.

GEM fellows include many of the most highly sought African-American, Hispanic and American Indian graduate students in the nation. The GEM Consortium says that many of its students already have a relationship with some of the leading corporations in the nation, increasing the likelihood that they will succeed in graduate school and in their careers. For more information, see