Academics: Research Programs

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Overview of STEM at Spelman College

Spelman College has a strong record of educating African-American women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines. On average, during the past five years, 34 percent of the College’s student body pursued majors in biology, chemistry, mathematics, computer science, physics, environmental science or engineering (dual degree program), and 25 percent of graduates received degrees in STEM disciplines.  

The College employs 54 full-time faculty in the STEM departments and programs, of which 83 percent are racial/ethnic minorities and 52 percent are women. Of the 28 women faculty members, 64 percent are African-American. This represents an exceptional diversity while providing a support system of role models for our students.  This diversity of research active STEM faculty is rare, providing a uniquely supportive undergraduate science training environment for female students of color.

Spelman has engaged in a sustained effort to build an exemplary undergraduate science program that responds to strong student interest in modern science and technology training. Infrastructural developments in the past decade reflect the institution’s strong commitment to building the research active environment necessary to sustain innovative science curricular and training resources on par with other Carnegie Baccalaureate institutions.

In 2001, Spelman College completed construction of the $34 million Albro-Falconer-Manley Science Center, a 154,000 square foot training facility equipped with state-of-the-art equipment and facilities to support comprehensive STEM research and training. The current research infrastructure includes the Office of Research Resources, the Office of Sponsored Programs, Internal Evaluation Services, the Institutional Review Board, and the Office of Institutional Research Assessment and Planning.

Spelman also has an established practice of faculty-mentored student research in the STEM disciplines. Student research is supported through a number of programs on campus, including the MBRS-RISE training program in biomedical science, the HHMI Research Fellows Program, and the MARC-U*STAR program awarded by NIGMS/MORE to the Atlanta University Center Consortium institutions (of which Spelman is a member).

Every year more than 100 students participate in a research/internship experience with faculty at Spelman College, AUC partners (Morehouse School of Medicine, Morehouse College, Clark Atlanta University), or nearby research institutions (Georgia Institute of Technology, Emory University, Georgia State University, CDC, EPA). Thus, the Spelman educational experience includes the benefits of a small college learning community enhanced by the variety of opportunities available within the research-rich Metro Atlanta corridor.

The result is a solid track record of graduates who pursue advanced training in their disciplines. Spelman, along with other historically Black institutions, continues to be among the top baccalaureate institutions of origin for African Americans earning doctoral degrees. Since 2000, 16 percent of Spelman’s graduates have entered STEM graduate programs (including psychology), and in the past decade a total of 104 Spelman graduates have earned doctoral degrees in biomedical sciences. 

Based on a 2008 survey, Spelman was ranked by the NSF as the No. 2 undergraduate institution of origin of Black Ph.D.s in STEM disciplines (National Science Foundation, Division of Science Resources Statistics, Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering: 2011 Digest, NSF 11-309,)  Spelman’s record of accomplishments considered against the current national backdrop illustrates the critical role this unique institution has to play in preparing STEM students to contribute to future generations of scientists, representative of our diverse national population.