UC Davis-Howard University EEGAP: Collaborating to broaden participation in ecology and evolution
Ecological professionals in the 21st century remain predominantly Caucasian/white, in spite of decades of work by professional societies, colleges and universities, and individual ecologists to broaden participation. This multifaceted problem includes concerns among students and faculty at minority-serving institutions about the economics of career choice, family pressure to pursue a career in a biomedical field, and limited exposure to natural history. Further, institutional efforts in recruitment by research universities remain rooted in graduate fairs that target senior undergraduates from groups underrepresented in science, whereas the graduate admissions process in ecology depends largely on student and faculty matches made via common research networks. The UC Davis-Howard University Ecology and Evolution Graduate Admissions Pathways (EEGAP) program addresses this challenge via collaborations between faculty at the two institutions and a research co-mentoring program that brings Howard University undergraduates to UC Davis for summer research.
The EEGAP program consists of reciprocal student-faculty visits, close interactions between key UC Davis and Howard University faculty, monthly skype meetings that involve mentors and students, and research, professional development, and field trips in the summer. Since its inception in 2011, EEGAP has resulted in a new inter-institutional research collaboration between faculty, alumni working in internships at the Environmental Protection Agency and other environmental organizations, and two alumni in graduate study in ecology and evolutionary biology. Moreover, EEGAP has catalyzed change both at Howard University, with recruitment of four new tenure-track faculty in ecology and evolutionary biology, and at UC Davis, where increased numbers of faculty recognize the need to be proactive in graduate recruiting and admissions, and multiple deans have committed time to mentor students and funds to support additional undergraduates from Historically Black Colleges and Universities for summer research and mentoring.