California approves $5 million to fund diversity in science and technology education | UCI News

The State of California has approved $5 million in funding for the Cal-Bridge program which provides a pathway for underrepresented students in the Community Colleges and California State University system to pursue Ph.D. degree through the University of California system and join the California science and technology workforce, including as public university faculty.

The Cal-Bridge Program, launched in 2014, is a statewide partnership between 9 UCs, 23 CSUs, and 116 community colleges across California that supports CSU undergraduate students majoring in physics, computer science, and mathematics to enroll in doctoral programs across the state and nation. . The new California state budget allocation will enable Cal-Bridge to expand the subject areas covered and expand its impact, supporting Cal-Bridge scholars all the way from their undergraduate studies at CSU to their Ph.D. theirs at UC, thus building a pathway for thousands of California students from diverse backgrounds to achieve the expertise needed to fill university faculty and technology leadership positions in California and beyond.

“Faculty diversification will lead to an increase in gender, racial and ethnic representation in the tech workforce more broadly by increasing the number of students from historically underrepresented groups who complete degrees in STEM fields because they see faculty who look like them,” said Cal. -Bridge Executive Director Alexander Rudolph, professor of physics and astronomy at Cal Poly Pomona. “As countries around the world increase their investments in science and technology, ensuring that our nation uses all available talent in developing our expertise and capabilities in these areas is a matter of economic and national security.”

Maria “Katy” Rodriguez Wimberly is a wonderful example of the power of the Cal-Bridge approach. An Army veteran, Wimberly took classes at the community college level before transferring to California State University, Long Beach, where she joined the Cal-Bridge program in 2015. Wimberly graduated with a BS in physics from Long Beach and went on to earn a PhD in astrophysics at UC Irvine in 2021. She is now an NSF MPS-Ascend postdoctoral fellow in astrophysics at UC Riverside.

Commenting on how the Cal-Bridge program provided the support she needed to succeed, Wimberly said, “The network of mentors and peers Cal-Bridge has helped me create has been invaluable in my pursuit of a PhD in astrophysics! I now have an incredible support system of similarly underrepresented students and mentors who are actively working to build a more inclusive community.”

Kevork Abazajian, professor of physics and astronomy, is the director of Cal-Bridge UC-South and leads the program at UCI.

About Cal-Bridge: The Cal-Bridge program has a mission to create a comprehensive, end-to-end pathway for students from the CSU system’s diverse student population through graduate school to a doctorate, postdoctoral fellowship, and ultimately membership in the faculty and science and technology workforce. Students in the program are called Cal-Bridge Scholars.

The program is a partnership between 9 University of California, 23 California State Universities and 116 community college campuses in the state, thus fulfilling the promise of cross-segmental collaboration envisioned in the California Master Plan for Higher Education. Scholars are recruited from CSU and community college campuses across the state, with the assistance of local faculty and/or staff liaisons at each campus. Community college students transfer to a participating CSU to join the program.

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