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Extraordinary Opportunities: UNCF/Merck Science Initiative for African American Students

If you don’t get the hardcopy version of C&EN, you are likely to have missed the ad on pg. 36 (Oct 25) for a fantastic scholarship and fellowship opportunity benefiting African American undergrad, graduate students, and postdocs in the chemical or biological sciences.

The United Negro College Fund (UNCF) has partnered with Merck and the Merck Company Foundation to offer some comprehensive awards to create these unique awards. For example, the undergraduate award consists of scholarships up to $25,000 plus a paid internship at a Merck research facility. The graduate dissertation award is for up to $43,500 plus a $10,000 research and travel grant. The postdoc award consists of a fellowship of up to $92,000: $77K in salary for up to 24 months (but no more than $55K in one year) plus a $15,000 research and travel grant.

But the program doesn’t only provide financial support. UNCF/Merck Scholars at all levels benefit from the networking opportunities through the collective association of scholars that number over 500 dating back to 1996. UNCF/Merck Scholars hold positions in academia, government, and industry – one even just flew on the Space Shuttle!

Here’s a summary from the program’s “about” page but go there posthaste and apply! The deadline for applications is

THE UNCF/MERCK SCIENCE INITIATIVE
It’s a Chance of a Lifetime Through an Extraordinary Partnership

UMSI brings together UNCF, the Merck Research Laboratories and The Merck Institute for Science Education to offer 37 annual awards to outstanding African American students and postdoctoral researchers:

  • 15 undergraduate scholarships
  • 12 graduate dissertation fellowships
  • 10 postdoctoral research fellowships

But besides funds for tuition, room and board and fees, there’s also institutional support through grants to the science departments of award recipients and research grants. And along with knowledge, you’ll develop a career, with hands-on research training, mentoring relationships and networking and career advancement through the Association of UNCF/Merck Fellows.

African Americans hold less than two percent of PhDs in biology and chemistry today. But UMSI is creating opportunities for people in the biological and chemical sciences. Apply now, and get a jump on a rewarding and successful career!

You cannot win if you do not apply – so get to it!

Disclosure: An undergraduate student in my department received one of these awards last year. My family also donates monthly to UNCF because we believe so strongly in their mission, especially in chemistry and the pharmaceutical sciences.

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