By Special to the Daily World
FAIRFAX, Va.– Michael Lomax, president and CEO of UNCF (United Negro College Fund), the nation’s largest and most effective minority education organization, challenged an audience of African-American scientists and science students to make sure that as they build their careers, they also reach out to help younger students get the pre-college education they need to study science in college. Lomax spoke at the annual 2011 UNCF/Merck Fellows Day, celebrating the 2011 class of 37 African Americans receiving scholarships and fellowships under the UNCF/Merck Science Initiative, a partnership of UNCF and Merck, a global healthcare leader working to help the world be well.
Now in its 16th year, UMSI is a 20-year partnership that has supported over 550 scholarships and fellowships to promising undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral science students pursing careers in biomedical research. The UNCF/Merck scholarships and fellowships provide the future scientists with financial support, hands-on training, close mentoring and networking relationships, and institutional support. Recipients are chosen through a competitive application process that selects candidates based on their academic achievements and potential in the fields of biomedical research and engineering.
“Merck’s investment in these promising students and scholars is a major commitment to developing the next generation of researchers, professors, and teachers in biological science and engineering and an investment in longer and better lives for millions of people not only in America but around the world,” said Lomax. “Merck Fellows and alumni can invest, too, by getting involved to help educate the middle- and high-schoolers of today prepare to become the next generation of African American science majors and graduate students.”
American undergraduate students select natural science and engineering (NS&E) disciplines as their primary field of study at considerably lower rates than their counterparts in other countries, according to the National Science Board’s 2010 report, “Preparing the Next Generation of STEM innovators: Identifying and Developing Our Nation’s Human Capital.” According to the most recent data, only 16 percent of U.S. undergraduates choose an NS&E major, compared to 25 percent of undergraduates in the