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Increasing the Number of Underrepresented Minorities in Astronomy at theUndergraduate, Graduate, and Postdoctoral Levels (Paper I)

Agüeros, Marcel Andre; The AAS Committee on the Status of Minorities in Astronomy (CSMA)

If the ethnic makeup of the astronomy profession is to achieve parity with the general population within one generation (~30 years), the number of underrepresented minorities earning graduate degrees in astronomy and astrophysics must increase in the coming decade by a factor of 5 to 10. To accomplish this, the profession must develop and invest in mechanisms to more effectively move individuals across critical educational junctures to the PhD and beyond. Early and continuous research engagement starting in the undergraduate years is critical to this vision, in which the federally funded research internship programs (e.g. NSF REU, NASA GSRP) and national centers/observatories play a vital role. Regionally based partnerships with minority-serving institutions (MSIs) are crucial for tapping extant pools of minority talent, as are post-baccalaurate and/or masters degree "bridging" programs that provide critical stepping stones to the PhD. Because of the strong undergraduate physics, engineering, and computer science backgrounds of many students from MSIs, we suggest that instrument development and large scale computing/data-mining are particularly promising avenues for engagement in the coming decade.


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March 25, 2014