Eight Historically Black Colleges and Universities are among this year’s beneficiaries of $10.8 million in grants awarded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to train and graduate students in NOAA-related scientific fields.
NOAA is the U.S. Department of Commerce agency that focuses on the conditions of the oceans and atmosphere. The awards, announced today, were made through the agency’s Educational Partnership Program with Minority Serving Institutions. They are in keeping with NOAA’s quest to develop “a strong, well trained, diverse workforce for the NOAA and the nation,” according to Jane Lubchenco, the agency’s administrator.
“These grants recognize the importance of STEM fields—science, technology, engineering and mathematics—to the future of America’s ability to innovate and compete in the global community,” said Lubchenco, who is also under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere.
Grant recipients under the program are institutions with a large or predominantly minority student population. Three of this year’s four lead grant recipients—Florida A&M University, University of Maryland-Eastern Shore and Howard University—are HBCUs. The fourth lead recipient is the City College of New York, flagship campus of the City University of New York system.
Each of the four partnered with other schools, including other HBCUs, to form “cooperative science centers” with the NOAA that will train students in remote sensing, environmental science, living marine resources and atmospheric science. The lead centers and their partnering schools are:
NOAA Center for Remote Sensing Science and Technology, City College of New York. Partners: Hampton University (Virginia.), University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez (Puerto Rico), California State University at Los Angeles, University of Maryland Baltimore County.
NOAA Environmental Cooperative Science Center, Florida A&M University.
Partners: Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, Delaware State University, Jackson State University (Mississippi), University of Texas at Brownsville, Creighton University (Nebraska).
NOAA Center for Atmospheric Sciences, Howard University (Washington, D.C.)
Partners: Jackson State University, University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez, University of Texas at El Paso, University of Maryland College Park, State University of New York at Albany.
NOAA Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center, University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Partners: Delaware State University, Hampton University, Savannah State University (Georgia), University of Miami-Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology, Oregon State University.
The partnering HBCUs are Delaware State University, Jackson State University, Hampton University, and Savannah State University. NOAA said the $10.8 million in grants to the centers may grow to $15 million over five years for each lead center, depending on performance and appropriations.
To date, the cooperative science centers have trained 1,766 students, 921 of whom earned degrees in NOAA-related fields, NOAA said. NOAA itself has hired 100 center-trained graduates.
The cooperative science centers are one of four components of the Educational Partnership Program with Minority Serving Institutions, a program that has been active since 2001. The other components are the Environmental Entrepreneurship Program, aimed at creating business opportunities in the application of NOAA sciences; the Graduate Sciences Program, a scholarship program for outstanding minorities and women in NOAA-related disciplines are eligible; and the Undergraduate Scholarship Program.