A new scholarly program honors the legacy of Freeman Harbowski

As president of the University of Maryland Baltimore County, Freeman Harbowski has pledged to diversify the cornerstones of his career. Now the Howard Hughes Medical Institute has established a নামে 1.5 billion fund in his name to advance diversity in science.

The effort is part of a larger HM 2 billion HHMI pledge to increase minority representation in science.

Over the past 30 years, under Hrabowski’s leadership, UMBC has graduated more black students pursuing PhDs in natural sciences and engineering than any other U.S. university. As Hrabowski prepares to retire in July, HHMI wants to continue its legacy.

“Often when people talk about diversity, equity and inclusion, it’s because they’re worried about street violence or they realize it’s the right thing to do to give everyone a chance,” Hrabowski said. Inside higher ed. “But the signal from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute is that bringing more people into science and medicine is crucial – it’s important for the future of mankind.”

How it will work

The Freeman Harbowski Scholars Program – which officially opens today for application – will select 150 primary-career scientists over the next decade, hiring 30 people each year. Each selected scholar will receive $ 8.6 million over a 10-year period, including full pay and benefits, a research budget, scientific equipment, mentoring training, and professional development.

Scholars will be appointed for a period of five years with the possibility of renewal. Although technically an employee of HHMI, the scholars will remain in their home institution and lab.

Since this is technically an employment program, appointments cannot be made on the basis of race, gender or other factors, but successful applicants must show commitment to diversity.

“We want people to comment on their views on the importance of diversity in science, how they have been advised by their trained people, how they want to advise people in their labs, and to establish their views on the importance of culture. And climate and science, ”said Leslie Voshal, vice president and chief scientific officer at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. “It simply came to our notice then. And then the second part of it is scientific evaluation. “

Applicants will go through a blind assessment when commenting on the diversity part; Critics don’t know features like race or gender The top 300 applicants will then advance to the next round for scientific review, which will shrink the pool to 60. Those candidates will participate in a virtual symposium, after which 30 winners will be selected.

The selection process will be every year, starting this year.

Applicants must be a primary-career scientist from one of the more than 300 qualified institutions and cannot be a government employee. More details about eligibility are available on the HHMI website.

Namesake of Honoring

Considering what the program should be called, Voshal said Harabowski’s name had received an enthusiastic response. He points to his legacy as president of UMBC, where he became famous for the institution’s success in graduating black students who had earned a PhD in science.

“It simply came to our notice then. He has embodied what the program wants to do, “said Voshal.

Harbowski said he was “surprised” to hear that HHMI wanted to name the program after him. But he would not take credit for UMBC’s role in launching a career of diverse scientists, citing collaborative efforts across campus.

“It’s not about me – it’s about us. This honor represents, for my colleagues and for me, some recognition of what we’ve been able to do here at UMBC,” Harabowski said. “I give credit to my colleagues and students who have shown this country. What is possible. “

Hrabowski points to UMBC graduates in the field as agents of change at the forefront of scientific progress. Among others, he cites the work of Kizmekia Corbett, a UMBC graduate who helped create the modern COVID-19 vaccine.

Hrabowski emphasizes the importance of representation in science, which he hopes will increase his naming program.

“Now, in this post-Kovid era, more people than ever before are realizing that we need to improve our ability to participate in science. So that, No. 1, the public will have confidence in science and medicine, and No. 2, we bring the best talent of mankind in this work to solve more rich problems. Because they come up with different perspectives, different questions, “Harabowski said.

Public interest trend

While this is not a fund dedicated to the DEI effort and a grant to a specific organization, HHMI’s efforts have recently been poured into higher education by some of the biggest donor competitors. According to Amir Pasik, dean of the Indiana University Lily Family School of Philanthropy, and dollars dedicated to issues of diversity and racial justice have been increasing in recent years.

He noted that Mackenzie Scott had given billions of dollars, a significant portion of which had historically flowed into black colleges and universities, tribal colleges, community colleges, and several organizations emphasizing minorities.

He also pointed to the disproportionate impact of the epidemic on Pacific ethnic minorities and the extrajudicial killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man at the hands of police officers in Minneapolis. These events, he believes, have raised awareness about DEI.

“Epidemics and racial censuses have made diversity issues more important across higher education and the ecosystem of science. It strikes me as one of the most significant efforts of the most prestigious incubators of scientific and medical genius in the country, “said Pasik.

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