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UTA aims to increase number of underprivileged or minority students seeking graduate bioengineering degrees

Friday, August 21, 2015

Media Contact: Herb Booth, Office: 817-272-7075, Cell: 214-546-1082, hbooth@uta.edu

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Statistically, fewer underprivileged and minority students at universities nationwide pursue advanced degrees in healthcare fields.

UT Arlington has joined a consortium of universities that hopes to expose undergraduate students to research early in their academic careers and increase their chances of continuing their education beyond a bachelor’s degree. Bioengineering Professor Kytai Nguyen is leading the UT Arlington effort.

Kytai Nguyen

Kytai Nguyen, associate professor of bioengineering at UT Arlington, will collaborate with UT El Paso in an NIH grant aimed at recruiting more minority and underprivileged students to seek graduate degrees in the field.

More than 10 universities have joined the consortium, which is led by UT El Paso and funded by the National Institutes of Health for $22 million. The University of Texas at Arlington will receive $198,225 to host and mentor student researchers interested in biomedical engineering.

Anand Puppala, professor of civil engineering and associate dean of research in the College of Engineering, is co-PI and will work with Nguyen in implementing the grant.

“UT Arlington is a Hispanic-serving institution, but even here we don’t see many Hispanic students deciding to pursue an advanced degree. In fact, we see the same trend among African-Americans and other minority groups,” Nguyen said. “This grant is about encouraging and retaining minority students in higher education. If they are engaged in meaningful research early in their careers, they are more likely to pursue a doctoral degree.

Under the grant, UTEP will send students to UTA for the summer. Nguyen’s role is to match them with a faculty mentor, who will allow the students to work in their research groups. The consortium will share data and best practices that will aid member institutions in addressing the lack of diversity in graduate programs.

“UT Arlington is one of the most diverse campuses in the nation, but we are very eager to attract an even more diverse group of students to our engineering graduate programs,” Khosrow Behbehani, dean of the College of Engineering, said. “This collaboration will help us identify best practices and understand how to better serve students from underprivileged and minority backgrounds,” said

In addition to faculty mentors, graduate students also will guide the visiting students, and there will be opportunities for professors from other campuses to visit UTA to explore research collaborations.

About The University of Texas at Arlington

The University of Texas at Arlington is a comprehensive research institution of more than 51,000 students in campus-based and online degree programs and is the second largest institution in The University of Texas System. The Chronicle of Higher Education ranked UT Arlington as one of the 20 fastest-growing public research universities in the nation in 2014. U.S. News & World Report ranks UT Arlington fifth in the nation for undergraduate diversity. The University is a Hispanic-Serving Institution and is ranked as a “Best for Vets” college by Military Times magazine. Visit www.uta.edu to learn more, and find UT Arlington rankings and recognition at www.uta.edu/uta/about/rankings.php.

-- written by Jeremy Agor

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The University of Texas at Arlington is an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action employer.