European Union, 47 percent in China, and 38 percent in South Korea. The same trend is reflected among students studying STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) as graduate and post-doctoral students. 33 percent of all U.S. STEM doctoral students in U.S. universities, and 57 percent of U.S. postdoctoral STEM fellows are foreign students on temporary visas. The UNCF/Merck Science Initiative thus represents a substantial continuing increase in the number of African Americans in the STEM fields.
Merck and UNCF began UMSI in 1995 with a 10-year, $20 million grant from the Merck Company Foundation and Merck Research Laboratories. The project was extended in 2006 with an additional $13 million grant and again earlier this year for $10.6 million over five years.
“Merck’s global philosophy is to hire the best and most qualified talent available to help us develop and deliver novel medicines and vaccines that address unmet medical needs,” said Peter S. Kim, president, Merck Research Laboratories. “We recognize that to achieve breakthrough science and innovation, we need diversity of thought and an inclusive culture so that everyone can contribute and grow to their full potential. Our longstanding partnership with the UNCF is an important element to our success.”
The 2011 UNCF/Merck Fellows receive awards ranging from $25,000 for undergraduate scholarship recipients to $92,000 for recipients of postdoctoral fellowships. In addition, the program’s alumni have organized the Association of UNCF/Merck Fellows to facilitate continued professional growth. This network allows UNCF/Merck Fellows to collaborate in academia, government and the private sector to leverage their wealth of scientific, technical and biomedical knowledge and experience.
“The UNCF/Merck Science Initiative is more than an award that honors outstanding African American scientists,” said Andra S. Stevenson, Ph.D., a Merck scientist and former UNCF/Merck Postdoctoral Fellow, “It recognizes our commitment as scientists to better the lives of those around us. Being a UNCF/Merck Fellow has opened doors to numerous invaluable opportunities including the position I hold now as a senior biologist at Merck. Serving in this capacity enables me to work as a member of large program teams that are working toward bringing life-changing treatments and cures to the world and its patients.”
Support from the UNCF/Merck Science Initiative scholarships targets students entering their final undergraduate year, graduate students in their final two-to-three years of dissertation research, and postdoctoral Fellows continuing their research training. African American students in the life, physical and engineering sciences at American four-year colleges and universities are eligible to apply for the scholarship
To learn more about the UNCF/Merck Science Initiative, visit http://umsi.uncf.org/.