What is IGEN?
The NSF INCLUDES Alliance: Inclusive Graduate Education Network (IGEN) is a partnership of over 30 societies, institutions, organizations, corporations, and national laboratories poised to lead a paradigm shift in increasing the participation of Black, Latinx and Indigenous students who enter graduate or doctorate level programs in the physical sciences. Its mission is to raise doctoral degree attainment rates of these groups in the physical sciences to match their bachelors degree attainment rates. We will eliminate this disparity by both reducing barriers to access and improving the quality of minoritized students’ mentoring and experiences.
Percentage of Black, Latinx, and Indigenous students earning degrees. Numbers in black indicate the number of additional PhDs required to close the gap between BS and PhD degree attainment. Source: IPEDS, 2011-2015.
Participation in STEM
The participation gap widens between undergraduate and graduate studies in relation to underrepresented groups in STEM disciplines. Underlying drivers are many, but an ability to close the gap between undergraduate and graduate participation by Black, Latinx, and Indigenous students in physics has been demonstrated through the American Physical Society's Bridge Program. The Inclusive Graduate Education Network Alliance proposes an innovative strategy to eliminate the gap in chemistry and geosciences within the five year timespan of this grant and to institutionalize inclusive, evidence-based practices for selecting and training a diverse, innovative, and globally competitive scientific workforce.
Physical Science Disciplinary societies are uniquely positioned to lead efforts that empower faculty members to reform and improve their graduate education practices. Scholars in graduate education and research mentorship are identifying effective practices and providing opportunities for professional development. Additional partners from societies, laboratories and industries form a constellation of organizations and individuals that can address systemic issues that inhibit students’ success in attaining doctoral degrees.
This project takes a full-spectrum, cross-sector approach to addressing institutional practices that hinder the success of students by:
- Improving the mentoring of researchers
- Transforming graduate admissions practices
- Recruiting large numbers of students who would otherwise not enter graduate studies
- Improving graduate retention measures
IGEN is committed to achieving an audacious goal of increasing the number of Black, Latinx, and Indigenous students to the level where there is no difference in bachelor and doctoral degree attainment rates. The APS Bridge Program and the IGEN Launch Pilot’s systemic reforms are already on track to achieve this goal. By using a collective impact approach, the IGEN community will work together to realize similar results across all of the physical sciences.
Progress Toward Goals
The NSF INCLUDES Alliance: IGEN launched in September 2018 with four shared goals. In year 3 of the project, IGEN partners have made progress towards those goals.
Goal 1. Increase the fraction of students from underrepresented groups who complete physical science doctoral degrees
- 83 students were accepted into IGEN Bridge Programs bringing the total number of graduate students placed to 383
- 95% retention rate among students in the first 2 cohorts of IGEN-associated Bridge Programs
- 6 students graduated with a PhD from the APS Bridge Program
- AGU approved the addition of 18 Bridge Partners
Goal 2. Catalyze the adoption of evidence-based inclusive practices in graduate education
- Since its inception, IGEN Inclusive Practices and Research Hubs engaged 1,400 workshop participants in 14 academic fields to develop their capacity for inclusive practices in graduate education.
- Delivered 26 workshops focused on inclusive practices, including holistic admissions strategies and graduate student well-being.
- With the IGEN Research Hub, trained 10 facilitators to lead future workshops.
Goal 3. Conduct research that distills scalable, effective practices in inclusive graduate education & institutional change
- IGEN Research Hub drafted a racial equity statement, aligning IGEn as an entity committed to advancing racial equity in the physical sciences
- Created the Equity in Graduate Education Resource Center.
- Published 8 articles, bringing the total number of publications to 15
- Convened a quarterly journal club to highlight research on racial equity in the physical sciences, which held 8 virtual meetings with over 500 total participants
- Facilitated the IGEN Research Accelerator, which awarded 5 seed grants of $5,000 to catalyze the next round of research on equity in graduate education
Goal 4. Establish sustained, cross-sector partnerships that support the advancement of underrepresented students
- IGEN partnered with 15 National Laboratories interested in recruiting Bridge students for internships and postdocs
- Through the professional networking group, hosted 5 webinars for graduate students and National Lab professionals to connect
- Partnered with National Laboratories to beta-test Mentorship Education for Scientists at Federally-Funded Research Centers (National Laboratories).
- Convened the second IGEN National Meeting