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 4 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
- 78 students were accepted into IGEN-associated Bridge Programs in the 2022 recruiting cycle, bringing the total number of graduate students placed to 306
- 97% retention rate among students in the first 3 cohorts of IGEN-associated Bridge Programs
- 24 Bridge Partners and 3 Bridge Sites joined IGEN in 2022
Goal 2. Catalyze the adoption of evidence-based inclusive practices in graduate education
- Since the inception of IGEN, the IP Hub engaged nearly 2,000 workshop participants in more than 15 different academic fields across 22 academic institutions to develop their capacity to implement inclusive practices in graduate education
- More than two-thirds of survey respondents indicated the workshops changed the mindset of practitioners on using holistic admissions protocols (81%), assessing non-cognitive competencies (67%), and evaluating their own admissions policies (67%)
- Trained 3 facilitators to lead inclusive practices workshops, which brings the total number of trained facilitators to 7
- Trained 8 facilitators of Entering Mentoring from AGU, APS and ACS bridge programs
Goal 3. Conduct research that distills scalable, effective practices in inclusive graduate education & institutional change
- The IGEN Research Hub is currently conducting 13 discrete research studies
- In 2021/22, the Research Hub added seven additional researchers
- Produced 9 research translation documents on topics including holistic admissions practices, racial violence, trauma-informed communication strategies, and graduate student well-being
- Convened 4 Virtual Journal Club meetings, with approximately 40 participants in each session
Goal 4. Establish sustained, cross-sector partnerships that support the advancement of underrepresented students
- IGEN partnered with 41 organizations including disciplinary societies, National Labs, universities, and industrial or commercial firms
- CIMER delivered mentoring training titled “Facilitating Entering Mentoring” (train-the-trainer sessions) for 52 representatives of National Laboratories and Bridge Partner Universities (28 in 2021, 24 in 2022) with the goal of improving the quality of mentoring that post-doctoral scholars receive
- Facilitated seven coffee hours (two in 2022, five in 2023) during which trained facilitators discussed challenges and successes in implementing the Entering Mentoring training in their specific labs