N.C. A&T Partners with Duke to Fill a Crucial Gap in Bioinformatic Training

N.C. A&T State University and Duke University have been awarded a $3 million National Science Foundation Research Traineeship grant to develop a program for graduate students who are interested in microbiome research. Designed to transcend communication barriers between disciplines and promote team science, the five-year grant will enable project leaders across both institutions to create an interdisciplinary educational platform for biologists, engineers, computer scientists and biostatisticians.

The new training program will address current training gaps by creating an educational model where microbiologists, engineers, statisticians and other empirical scientists will be cross-trained with theorists, model builders and computational scientists. They will also learn to engage with the community through outreach activities aimed at promoting science and engineering to the general public.

The project is a collaboration between N.C. A&T (nanoengineering, natural resources and environmental design, biology and computer science) and various Duke entities, including the Pratt School of Engineering, the Nicholas School of the Environment, Trinity College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Medicine.

The program will have an emphasis on the recruitment of minority and women students in fields in which they have been underrepresented. It presents an opportunity to bring students together who do not typically interact to open their eyes to other activities or careers of which they might otherwise have been unaware. The desire is for the program to better prepare students to meet future research needs and accelerate research innovation.

“A unique feature of our team is the presence of women and underrepresented minority faculty in the core leadership of the project. This is usually not the case in these fields,” said Joseph L. Graves Jr, associate dean for research at the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering, which is jointly administered by N.C. A&T and UNC at Greensboro and is a co-principal investigator on the grant.


NBCUniversal Partners with N.C. A&T Journalism Program 

NBCUniversal and N.C. A&T have established a partnership to further develop initiatives to direct graduates of historically black colleges and universities into media careers. The media and entertainment company donated $50,000 to the N.C. A&T department of journalism and mass communication to support such efforts. NBCUniversal will be a sponsor of this year’s National Association of Black Journalists Multimedia Short Course, held each spring at N.C. A&T. The short-course program has been held for more than 20 years and is a rigorous four-day seminar that allows HBCU journalism students to gain hands-on experience and a practical understanding of broadcast newsroom jobs.

Exposing students to real-world media environments and introducing them to industry professionals has been a hallmark of the program since its inception in the 1990s. A&T’s partnership with NBCUniversal will support such efforts to position HBCU graduates for careers in media, film and entertainment.

Alumni of the A&T journalism department have found success with NBC-affiliated organizations, including Anzio Williams, ’94, vice president of news at NBC10-WCAU in Philadelphia; Danya Baachus, ’04, an NBC 7 News anchor in San Diego; and digital journalist Kyle Harvey, ’09, music editor for NBCUniversal’s thegrio.com, a multimedia news community that focuses on stories and issues that affect and reflect black America.

A&T joins other HBCUs that have partnered with NBCUniversal’s Office of Diversity & Inclusion to bolster the percentage of graduates of color who enter industry jobs. The partnerships also help the media organization find talent for media-related jobs.

“Access is key to breaking into the industry, and this partnership will increase the number of talented, young and diverse individuals both in front of and behind the camera,” said Craig Robinson, executive vice president and chief diversity officer at NBCUniversal. “NBCUniversal is thrilled to partner with North Carolina A&T State University on this exciting initiative.”

Salvador Mendoza, vice president of diversity and inclusion, said education and training are vital for landing jobs, but the initiatives that sprout from partnerships with different universities are what help students grasp the keys to finding success in the industry. Those keys to success come in the form of internships, apprenticeships and interactions with professionals in the industry, such as the Page Program at NBCUniversal.

Gail Wiggins, assistant professor and internship director in the journalism department, is the organizer of the NABJ Short Course at A&T and initiated the partnership with NBCUniversal.

“I am excited and extremely appreciative of the partnership we have established with NBCUniversal,” she said. “They are one of the world’s leading media and entertainment organizations that deeply values diversity and inclusion. I’m thrilled they are now looking at A&T students to fill that talent pool.”

The journalism department also will utilize NBCUniversal’s Campus 2 Careers internship program, which focuses on linking students to jobs under the NBC umbrella that include news, research, TV programming and public relations.


North Carolina A&Teach Receives $1.19 Million NSF Grant

The National Science Foundation has awarded a $1.19 million grant to support the North Carolina A&Teach STEM Scholars Program, which aims to produce and support highly qualified K-12 science, technology, engineering and mathematics educators who can effectively deliver inquiry-based instruction that is concurrently culturally relevant to students in high-need schools. Funding will be awarded over a period of five years. Dr. Anthony Graham is the principal investigator, and Drs. Tyrette Carter, Ereka Williams, Sayo Fakayode and Cailisha Petty are the co-principal investigators.

This collaborative project between N.C. A&T State University, Guilford County Schools, Guilford Education Alliance and the Elimu Learning Center for Refugee Newcomers will recruit high-achieving undergraduate STEM majors at N.C. A&T and prepare them to concurrently earn baccalaureate degrees in a STEM discipline and an initial teacher certification in the state of North Carolina. The program will subsequently assist STEM Scholars with gaining employment as a secondary STEM teacher in a high-need school and will supplement the district’s induction support services, ensuring the employment retention of newly certified STEM Scholars.

North Carolina A&Teach is designed to achieve the following objectives: (1) recruit 25 high-achieving undergraduate STEM students to attain teacher licensure and baccalaureate degrees in a high-need STEM discipline; (2) engage STEM Scholars in a preparatory curriculum and professional development that enhance their STEM content knowledge and expertise with inquiry-based learning and culturally relevant pedagogy in STEM courses; and (3) prepare STEM Scholars to positively impact K-12 student learning through early field experiences with diverse students, community-based activities with families and non-profit organizations, clinical practice in high-need schools, mentoring relationships with master classroom teachers, apprenticeship experiences with university STEM faculty, and internships in STEM businesses.