Bridging the diversity gap in STEM fields

Bridging the diversity gap in STEM fields

Talks, collaborations reflect on climate for underrepresented groups

October 22, 2018

The BRIDGE initiative at UMass Amherst, led by students at the School for Earth & Sustainability, aims to increase the representation and visibility of early career scientists from underrepresented groups as a way of combating the attrition of underrepresented graduate students.


Funded initially by a Campus Climate Improvement Grant, BRIDGE provides supplemental funding to bring early career researchers from underrepresented groups to campus as part of the invited lecture series of the School’s departments. BRIDGE Scholars also host a separate event focused on broader impacts (BRIDGE2Impacts) and meet informally with graduate students (BRIDGE2Students) during their visit. The students’ aim is to help rising scientists connect with a more diverse community beyond what already exists at UMass.

BRIDGE also provides a space for open and constructive conversations on the obstacles faced by underrepresented groups.


Three BRIDGE scholars are visiting campus this semester. After urban planner Andrew Greenlee presented his research on bedbugs and housing patterns in September, BRIDGE committee member Benjamin Keisling commented that the presentation “invited all of us to think creatively about intersections between our research and the interests of other scientists and stakeholders.”  Nyeema Harris will be the next BRIDGE scholar to visit campus, this Friday, October 26, when she will discuss the importance of redefining impact in academia, share an environmental conservation seminar “Plasticity in Carnivore Community Structure: Discriminating top-down pressures,” and have lunch with graduate students. The semester’s visitors conclude with soil scholar Samantha Ying on November 5. 

In addition to highlighting the contributions of underrepresented scientists, BRIDGE provides invited early career researchers with a platform for sharing their research and establishing collaborations at a leading research university.  As their mission statement points out, BRIDGE also provides a space for open and constructive conversations between current graduate students and early career researchers on the obstacles faced by underrepresented groups in STEM. The student coordinating committee hope the structured conversation and reflection created can help build an even more nurturing campus climate.

Read on: 
BRIDGE Initiative  


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