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 Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2005 IssueFaculty/Staff E-Newsletter


EBIO Ph.D. Program Seeks to Retain Minority Students
By Vanessa Lozano, senior, School of Journalism and Mass Communication

The ecology and evolutionary biology department highlights its commitment to underrepresented doctoral students through its participation in the Alfred P. Sloan Minority Ph.D. Program.

The program offers fellowships, including a scholarship and faculty mentorship, in order to recruit, retain and graduate minority doctoral students.

According to Michael Breed, EBIO professor and Sloan project director, the department currently has two fellowship recipients and another one is expected this year. The number of fellowships awarded is based upon the number of minority students recruited to the department, Breed said.

The scholarship has allowed Lynette Laffea, EBIO doctoral candidate, to be a full-time student without accruing additional loan debt.

"As an undergraduate and master's student, money was always a struggle for me," Laffea said. "I came out of the university system with a lot of student loans and now as an older student I have other financial demands, such as a house."

Laffea works part-time at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, creating educational software for students. Her doctoral research is focused on global warming and building wireless sensors that measure land and atmospheric processes.

She received her undergraduate and master's degrees from the Colorado School of Mines, where she was heavily involved in the Minority Engineering Program. While at Mines, she also had a hand in creating a tutoring program for at-risk high school students, which still exists today.

Last year, Breed, along with four other professors, wrote a proposal for the EBIO department to be accepted into the Minority Ph.D. program, which is managed by the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering. The geological sciences department also participates in the program.

According to the Sloan Foundation Web site, each university selected to participate in the program has a history of preparing underrepresented Ph.D. students for leadership in the fields of engineering and technology, mathematics and natural sciences.

For more information, visit the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology web site.

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