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Mathematics Receives More than $550,000 to Support Inclusive, Diverse Graduate Program

By Whitney Harder

(Dec. 19, 2014) – The first two years of doctoral study in science and technology fields are critical to student success — particularly for underrepresented populations.

Reflecting the University of Kentucky's growing leadership in ensuring more diversity in graduate studies, President Eli Capilouto Friday announced that the university's Department of Mathematics, within the College of Arts and Sciences, has been awarded a $559,626 National Science Foundation grant to fund the new Graduate Scholars in Mathematics program. The funding will be dispersed through July 2019.

The program will support incoming mathematics graduate students at UK, including first-generation and Appalachian students, for the critical first two years of doctoral study, with a goal of helping to build a more diverse community of mathematicians. 

Graduate Scholars in Mathematics (GSM), accepting applications until Jan. 15 and launching in fall of 2015, will provide rigorous pre-professional training in advanced mathematics, provide participants with an early introduction to research in mathematics and develop their academic leadership skills.

“Research and graduate education are fundamental parts of the University of Kentucky’s mission, and support from the National Science Foundation will help UK’s Department of Mathematics build critical capacity in its graduate program,” said UK President Eli Capilouto. “The Graduate Scholars in Mathematics program will broaden access for underrepresented students interested in STEM fields – helping to build a diverse group of scholars at UK and preparing students for successful careers after graduation.”

“Student success is a high priority and the Graduate Scholars in Mathematics program will provide extra support during the critical first two years of graduate study," said Mark Lawrence Kornbluh, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences. "Through the grant, students from Appalachia and other underrepresented populations will have access to professional development, close interaction with successful alumni, scholarship funding, and summer fellowship opportunities. These opportunities are key in fostering growth in more STEM-based careers,” Kornbluh said.

Each GSM fellow will receive:

  • A $5,000 scholarship and reduced teaching responsibilities in the spring term of the first year of residency;
  • Professional development modules on research tools, grant writing, communicating mathematics, and career options in the mathematical sciences;
  • An intensive learning seminar to prepare for preliminary examinations in June of the first year;
  • A $5,000 summer fellowship and REG (Research Experiences for Graduates) summer program after successful completion of the first year;
  • A $5,000 scholarship in the spring term of the second year of residency;
  • A $5,000 summer research fellowship and supervised research with a faculty member after successful completion of the second year of residency; and
  • Close interaction with successful alumni in academe, industry, and government through teleconferencing and social media.

“All of the funds in this grant will go directly to help students — to support them through scholarships, travel funds, and mentoring activities,” said Peter Perry, principal investigator for the Graduate Scholars in Mathematics grant and director of graduate studies in the Department of Mathematics. "This kind of support is particularly important for first-generation college students and students from underrepresented groups.”

Graduate Scholars in Mathematics aims to include, but is not limited to, students of underrepresented races or ethnic origins, gender, religions, gender identities and disabilities. It also intends to support first-generation students, students from low-income families, students from rural Appalachian communities, and other students with a history of overcoming adversity.

Students from Appalachian counties in Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia are strongly encouraged to apply.

With the Department of Mathematics' history of successful alumni and nationally recognized faculty, GSM will prepare a new generation of academic leaders and role models for underrepresented groups. Alumni working in academia, business and government will mentor GSM students and provide close interaction through teleconferencing and social media.

“By awarding us this funding, the National Science Foundation has recognized both our past accomplishments and our future promise in training leaders in STEM education,” Perry said. “This grant is a high-leverage investment in the future of STEM education in our region. By training a new generation of STEM leaders that reflect our region’s diversity, we hope to connect many more students with rewarding careers in the mathematical sciences."

To find out more information about the Graduate Scholars in Mathematics program, please visit For more information about the application process, visit

MEDIA CONTACT: Whitney Harder,, (859) 323-2396