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Oklahoma State University launches program to work with American Indian doctoral students

A new program, called Science Scholars: The Native American Path, is funded by a grant from the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science.
by Silas Allen Modified: July 10, 2013 at 10:00 pm •  Published: July 9, 2013

John said he expects to take 22 students this fall.

Before that conference, students will attend a workshop with OSU faculty members, who will help the students develop their presentations for the conference.

After the conference, students will go through another workshop where they will work on their applications for summer research programs.

Besides having the opportunity to present their research, the conference gives students the chance to network with other students and scientists from across the country, John said.

American Indians, and minorities in general, are underrepresented in science-related fields, said Jason Kirksey, OSU's vice president for institutional diversity.

That lack of representation exists for a variety of reasons, he said, including a lack of interest and a limited number of role models in those communities.

Exposing American Indian students to science-related careers gives them a broader view of the world, Kirksey said.

It shows them career paths that they might not have considered in the past and offers them a different level of academic engagement, he said.

John said he hopes to see more American Indian students pursue careers in science.

Noting that he is the only full-blooded American Indian faculty member in OSU's microbiology department, John said the university is in a unique position to start to address that disparity.

“There is clearly a need to increase the number of Native Americans entering science and a need for more Native American faculty,” he said.