Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

JHU and Bloomberg Philanthropies launched a $150M initiative to boost STEM Ph.D. diversity

The Vivien Thomas Scholars Initiative will create a pipeline between HBCUs and Hopkins and offer students new funding and other supports.

Bloomberg Philanthropies and John Hopkins University announced this week a $150 million initiative to increase the diversity of Ph.D. students in science, technology, engineering and math fields.

Their Vivien Thomas Scholars Initiative will also combat inequities that leave Black Ph.D. graduates from historically Black colleges and universities with more debt than those from predominantly white institutions.

The initiative aims to create a pipeline between HBCUs and Hopkins that will add approximately 100 new slots for “diverse Ph.D. students” at JHU. Scholars in the initiative will get their tuition funded for up to six years, as well as a stipend, health insurance and travel funding. They’ll also receive mentorship, research and professional development opportunities, the orgs said.

“Decades of data and our own experience show the persistent truth that Ph.D. programs, particularly in the STEM fields, do not reflect the full spectrum of available talent,” said JHU President Ronald J. Daniels in a statement. “We cannot hope to produce the best science nor ensure that our faculties are truly representative until we increase the diversity of our Ph.D. programs.”

Outside of the Hopkins program itself, $15 million will be dedicated to programs that steer STEM students at HBCUs to Ph.D. programs. The initial partnerships will be with HBCUs Howard University, Morehouse College, Morgan State University, Prairie View A&M, Spelman College and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

“We believe there is a wealth of untapped talent out there, and that through sustained outreach and support, we can encourage more students from diverse backgrounds to seek Ph.D.s in these fields and become the next generation of transformational leaders in STEM,” said Dr. Damani Piggott, JHU’s assistant dean for graduate biomedical education and graduate student diversity. Piggott also will be spearheading the Vivien Thomas Scholars Initiative as associate vice provost for graduate diversity and partnerships.

Here’s a video introducing the initiative, named for an influential Black surgical laboratory supervisor who taught and conducted research at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1940s:

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[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ShApIHCouK4]


Donte Kirby is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation. -30-
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