A Brief History of the LMRCSC

To prepare a diverse student body for careers in marine and fisheries sciences through exemplary academic and research collaborations.

The Center was established in October 2001 as a cooperative agreement between NOAA’s Educational Partnership Program, the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES), lead institution, Delaware State University (DSU), Hampton University (HU), Savannah State University (SSU), the University of Miami, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (UM/RSMAS) and UMBI-Center of Marine Biotechnology (COMB), now known as University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology (UMCES-IMET). In 2011, Oregon State University (OSU) was added to the consortium, expanding the geographic spread of the Center to the west coast of the U.S.

Strengths of the LMRCSC Partner Institutions in Marine Science:

Historical Precedents, Educational Programs, and Marine Research: The seven collaborating institutions of the LMRCSC include four HBCUs: UMES, DSU, HU and SSU. The lead and partner institutions have a proven track record of educating, training and graduating post-secondary students, especially those belonging to URM groups, in NOAA mission sciences, management and policy. Of the LMRCSC partners, two rank among the top 50 universities whose graduates have become Black Science doctoral graduates 2008-2012 (NSF 2015). Hampton University is ranked number 4 and UMES is tied with four other universities at number 20. Historically, the Center institutions have been successful at producing marine scientists. Through strong linkages with NOAA, educational programs and research capabilities in the marine sciences at the Center HBCUs have been enhanced (see Capabilities of the LMRCSC Institutions).

Rationale for Establishing the LMRCSC: Fish populations face numerous challenges including overfishing, habitat loss, pollution, climate change, and ocean acidification, which have socio-economic impacts on the communities that depend on them. Meeting the projected future demand for fish will require innovative methods to increase fish production by sustainable aquaculture, and ecosystem approaches to fisheries management.  Additionally, there is a need to increase the number of fisheries scientists, including those belonging to underrepresented minority (URM) groups.  The number of graduate and undergraduate students belonging to URM groups, choosing careers in ocean sciences remains very low compared to the other scientific disciplines, which is a national concern. The production of fisheries scientists from URM groups requires building a pipeline from K-12 through undergraduate to graduate programs.  For the past 18 years, the LMRCSC has worked collaboratively with NOAA, toward achieving healthy and sustainable ocean systems, and to develop a diverse future workforce in NOAA related sciences consistent with NOAA’s long-term goals and NOAA’s Education Strategic Plan, 2015 – 2035.

LMRCSC Impacts on National Statistics of Underrepresented Minorities (URM) Graduates in Marine and Fisheries Science:  In 2001, NOAA EPP established four CSCs at MSIs (http://www.epp.noaa.gov/) with a primary goal of recruiting and training URMs in NOAA related sciences. The centers collectively graduated more than 1,310 students in various areas of geosciences from 2001 to 2015, of which 37% of the graduates were from the LMRCSC. Of the 330 Black B.S. degrees reported in the US Department of Education Integrated Post-Secondary Education Data System (IPEDS) that were awarded in marine/aquatic biology, biological oceanography, marine science and fisheries from 2002 – 2014, 39% (128) were awarded by LMRCSC institutions, particularly SSU (68) and HU (60) based on NOAA EPP student tracker database. Additionally, 25 of 70 Black M.S. degrees awarded from 2002-2014 in the same areas graduated from LMRCSC institutions; 13 from SSU and 12 from UMES. Furthermore, >50% of Black Ph.D. degrees in the areas mentioned above were awarded by LMRCSC institutions, specifically UMES (9) and UM-RSMAS (3). The LMRCSC institutions have also had significant impacts in the training of Hispanics. For example, OSU ranked fourth in the number of M.S. degrees awarded to Hispanics. UM-RSMAS ranked third in the number of Ph.D. degrees awarded to Hispanics from 2002-2014. Thus, the LMRCSC has contributed significantly to training and graduating students in the marine sciences who come from underrepresented populations (see LMRCSC by the numbers).  However, concerted and sustained efforts are, still needed to increase ethnic diversity in marine and fisheries sciences, and to understand why so few minority students choose to go into this discipline.  

Development of a Comprehensive, Integrated Educational Framework:  Recognizing that obstacles to the recruitment and training of URMs in marine sciences exist at all educational levels. The LMRCSC has used NOAA funding and funds leveraged from other sources to develop a unique Comprehensive, Integrated Educational Framework that uses best practices for URM recruitment, retention and graduation in NOAA related sciences. This comprehensive education plan includes:

  1. K-12 marine science outreach program
  2. High school student enrichment and experiential learning (SEEL) program
  3. Summer high school bridge program in geosciences
  4. Middle school and high school Teacher Development workshops
  5. Undergraduate student (especially freshmen and sophomores) research experiences during the academic year and summer
  6. Rigorous coursework and high quality research and collaborative mentoring of graduate students, and
  7. Professional development plans for Post-doctoral fellows and junior faculty.

Emphases are placed on outreach to K-12 students and their science teachers to make students aware of ocean sciences as a career; on summer bridge programs to strengthen the backgrounds of the students before entry and for success in college; and on the use of Student Development Plans to mentor, enhance academic performance and retention, and prepare the students for a successful career.

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