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Vanderbilt astronomer receives $50,000 fellowship to further racial equality


NASHVILLE, Tenn.  Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy
Keivan G. Stassun has been awarded a $50,000 fellowship from the Fletcher
Foundation to support his efforts to increase the number of underrepresented
minorities pursuing scientific careers.
The Alphonse Fletcher, Sr. Fellowship was modeled on the
Guggenheim Fellowship and its purpose is to fund work on race relations or
African American culture. The Fletcher Foundation is a private charity
created by leading black Wall Street money manager and philanthropist
Alphonse Fletcher Jr. to ³invest in efforts, primarily education-related,
that increase equality, justice and opportunity.² It is part of a $50
million initiative that Fletcher announced in 2004 on the 50th anniversary
of the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision to support
institutions and individuals working to further the goals of the landmark
Stassun will apply the award to develop a model of the
Fisk-Vanderbilt Masters-to-PhD Bridge program in collaboration with
researchers at Columbia Law School¹s Center for Institutional and Social
Change. In just five years the program has attracted 30 underrepresented
minorities, 60 percent of whom are women; has become the nation¹s top
producer of blacks earning master¹s degrees in physics; and is poised to
become the top awarder of doctoral degrees to underrepresented minorities in
physics, astronomy and materials science in 2010-11.
³The evidence suggests that the Bridge program works. But in
order for it to be sustainable, scalable and translatable, we also need to
know why it works and how it can be generalized,² Stassun explained in the
project description. ³The program has to date been developed on the basis of
empirical data and experienced-based best practice. We need now to tease out
the underlying theoretical framework through which this practice can be
understood, generalized and disseminated.²
Stassun will receive the award on Aug. 21 at a reception in
Martha¹s Vineyard, Mass., to celebrate the fifth year of the program.
For more news about Vanderbilt, visit the Vanderbilt News
Service homepage on the Internet at

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