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PROGRAM

MINDS PROGRAM

THE PROBLEM

Despite decades of effort, colleges and universities in the United States (US) have failed to raise the representation of African American, Hispanic American, Native American, Pacific Islanders, and people with disabilities on their faculty to the level of these groups within the general population (Layton et al., 2016; Trejo, 2017; Valentine and Collins, 2015). This is particularly true in STEM fields (Flaherty, 2017; Koedel, 2017). A recent report commissioned by the Society for Neuroscience (SfN) indicates that 4% of all PhDs granted in 2016 were to African American and 8% were to Hispanics (McKinley Advisors, 2017), percentages that are significantly higher than in previous surveys (e.g., Spear and Zigmond, 1992). Thus, there has been progress; yet, the struggle is far from over. No significant numbers of Native Americans or Alaskan Natives were reported in the latest survey, Hispanic- and African Americans are significantly below their presence in the general population, and the number of individuals with disabilities does not even appear to have been assessed. Moreover, if one looks at the representation of these diversity populations in more visible positions – as faculty, department chairs, editorial boards, and major speakers at conferences – the picture could hardly be worse.

THE NEED TO SOLVE THE PROBLEM

The large disparity in the inclusion of diversity individuals in behavioral and biomedical science is of great concern for many reasons:​

  • Fairness and equal opportunities have traditionally been highly prized principles in the US.

  • Future US needs for a trained science and technology research workforce.

  • A more diverse scientific workforce will lead to new areas of inquiry, the application of different approaches for examining critical issues and/or different interpretations of data by those who bring diversity to the discussions and whom they influence.

  • The role of URM faculty in educating future researchers.

THE MINDS PROGRAM

We have chosen to focus our attention on diversity individuals who are early in their careers as faculty members in the neurosciences. Evidence suggests that whereas there is still a great need to hire more such individuals into junior faculty positions in the biomedical sciences, there is an even greater need to help these individuals achieve professional success, including a strong record of publications, significant funding, and promotion to tenure and senior positions (Fang et al., 2000). This holds true for the more specific area of neuroscience, as well (Stricker, 2010).  After years of training, these individuals are now poised to make significant contributions to research and to the training of undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral fellows. However, many/most are not retained within the field, let alone rise through the ranks to achieve promotion and tenure (Connolly, et al., 2015). Therefore, it is at this point that change in the workforce can occur most rapidly.

The success of junior URM faculty members can be increased substantially by an intensive and

individualized program focused on:

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MENTORING

Strong Mentoring By Established Investigators

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Including Grant Writing 

Support

PROFESSIONAL

DEVELOPMENT

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NETWORKING

Development Of An Expanded Network

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Including Support To 

Scientific Conference

Attendance

ENRICHMENT

OPPORTUNITIES

The MINDS Program

  • Recruit 8-10 diversity junior faculty in neuroscience from US academic institutions

  • Develop an individualized assessment of needs

  • Identify a research mentor for each participant

  • Invite participants and mentors to a weekend workshop (3-day) to cover:

    • Grant writing strategies                      

    • Managing a Budget

    • Mock review sessions                         

    • Research presentations by participants

    • Mentor-fellow interactions

    • Former Fellows Success Stories

    • Panel with Associate Professors         

    • Keynote Speaker

  • Support enrichment activities based on individual needs

  • Attendance to the Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting

  • Workshop at SfN– Sessions suggested by fellows (1-day)​

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