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Enhancing Diversity in Graduate Education (EDGE)

The official biography below was current at the time of the award. See the organization’s website for its latest information.

In mathematics—as well as other disciplines—there are components of success for graduate students and early career scientists that are not often obvious; for example, accessing introductions to key figures in the scholarly field, gaining visibility for one's research and teaching accomplishments, and making key connections with public and private organizations for career professional work.

The Enhancing Diversity in Graduate Education (EDGE) program seeks to address these pressure points. It was launched in 1998 by Sylvia Bozeman (Spelman College) and Rhonda Hughes (Bryn Mawr College) and is currently sponsored by Morehouse and Pomona Colleges. Funding has been provided by the National Science Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and Microsoft Research. Participants of the EDGE program comprised 35 percent of Ph.D.s granted to African-American women in the mathematical sciences during the years 2005-2009. Remarkably, in 2009, EDGE participants accounted for over 35 percent of all Ph.D.s granted to African-American women.

The phenomenal success of this organization springs from program components which include intensive, summer residential workshops that focus on introducing new graduate students to the culture of graduate school. Mentees are immersed in disciplinary scholarship and research activities to strengthen their ability to articulate mathematical concepts at a higher level. Additionally, EDGE organizes STEM networking activities such as annual reunions, research sabbaticals and symposia, and regional meetings for small groups of women to facilitate peer and tiered mentoring.

Two hundred women have participated in 16 EDGE summer sessions. Fifty-six women (of whom 46 percent are minorities) have completed Ph.D. programs, and over 65 are still working toward their Ph.D. Of the remaining participants, 85 percent have received Master's degrees. EDGE participants are tenured and tenure-track faculty at colleges and universities around the country; they are research associates, post-doctoral fellows, congressional fellows, chairs of departments, teachers, and Fulbright scholars.