By Tracey Leong

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Towson University has just been selected for a national grant to cultivate the talent of minority students in science.

Out of 500 applicants, Towson University is one of 24 recipients awarded this $1 million grant, and the only one in Maryland.

The university plans to create a curriculum promoting participation in research experiences that will continue beyond undergraduate studies, specifically for transfer students and underrepresented minorities.

“We have to make changes so that our classes and educational experiences are more inclusive, and that’s what this grant is about,” said David Vanko, Dean of Fisher College Science & Math.

Towson is one of 24 universities selected by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, which is committed to diversity and inclusion. They aim to engage students in science education.

“Students who engage in research, authentic research early in their academic careers as undergraduates, are more likely to stay in that scientific field both while they are students and once they graduate,” said Laura Gough, with the Department of Biological Sciences.

In the last five years, Towson University has seen an 84 percent increase in underrepresented students choosing STEM majors.

With this $1 million grant, which will be paid out over a five year period, the university will invest in projects to help students in science succeed.

“If we are going to fulfill that obligation to graduate people who are qualified to work in STEM fields, we need to have strong programs that attract students, retrain them, and particularly attract students from all walks of life,” said Vanko.

Transforming the future of STEM education and developing a more diverse workforce in the science field.

“We know when we have people who bring different perspectives to the table, that there is work that shows better decisions are made and more creative opportunities are sought for that diversity of opinion,” said Gough.

These awards are the first round of the Howard Hughes Medical Initiative. Results for the second part will be announced in the spring.

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