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Minority Students Needed in Math and Science to Combat 'brain Drain,' Professors Say

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Arizona State University Professor Carlos Castillo-Chavez

"We have to produce large numbers of extremely well-qualified scientists and mathematicians, [and] it's not going to take place at the elite universities," says Arizona State University Professor Carlos Castillo-Chavez.

Credit: Arizona State University

Three mathematics and science professors called on the U.S. government to support institutional programs that have succeeded in attracting and retaining minority students during a recent Congressional briefing session. Arizona State University professor Carlos Castillo-Chavez says that most of the Hispanic and American-Indian students who participate in the university's math and science honors program, a high school summer residential program, pursue science majors.

Spelman College professor Sylvia T. Bozeman says her school's summer programs, in addition to the recruitment, advising, and mentoring efforts of the math and science faculty, have helped to get more young black females interested in mathematics.

Castillo-Chavez says the talents of U.S. citizens will need to be developed if the country is to make up for the brain drain of Chinese and Indian scientists and mathematicians who have begun to return to their home countries. He notes that institutions such as Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology will not be able to produce all the math and science graduates that the U.S. needs.

"We have to produce large numbers of extremely well-qualified scientists and mathematicians," he says. "It's not going to take place at the elite universities, but at schools with limited resources." The mathematics-education experts also say Congress should increase spending on undergraduate scholarships and for the National Science Foundation.

From The Chronicle of Higher Education
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