UNCF/Merck Initiative Awards More Fellowships, Scholarships
Taking a significant step to help increase the number of African Americans represented in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields, the United Negro College Fund and pharmaceutical company Merck & Co. announced 37 fellowship and scholarship awards that will be offered African American science students.
Under the UNCF/Merck Science Initiative, 2009 fellows may receive awards ranging up to $25,000 for undergraduate scholarship recipients and up to $85,000 for post doctoral fellowships. The program also includes funding for the science departments at the fellows’ colleges and universities.
“What the Merck program demonstrates is that when a long-term investment is made and when an innovative program pursues young people vigorously,” said Michael L. Lomax, UNCF president and chief executive. “The results are remarkable.”
Minority and low-income students remain significantly underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics–the STEM fields of study. Merck awarded UNCF a 10-year, $20 million grant in 1995, targeting students pursuing careers in biomedical research at the undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral levels. The initiative was renewed in 2006 to provide more than $13 million in additional funding through 2010.
The 15-year partnership has helped 516 minority students pursue careers in a wide range of disciplines, from biochemistry and microbiology, to pharmacology, neuroscience, biophysics, chemistry, and bioengineering.
“The experience in general was priceless. It was a critical component of my graduate studies,” says Marcus Jones, a 2003 graduate fellow in microbiology, who received his undergraduate degree from Southern University, an HBCU in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. “It made me a higher caliber graduate student because I had my own funding and could control my research more by doing experiments I normally wouldn’t be able to do.”
Undergraduate fellows receive summer research internships at Merck Research Laboratories, where each fellow is paired with a mentor. Life and physical science students at all four-year colleges and universities in the U.S. are eligible to apply for the scholarship.
–Marcia A. Wade