UNCF Science Initiative to Award Scholarships to 37 Black Students

The awards range from $25,000 for undergrads and $92,000 for postdoctoral recipients.

Posted: 06/14/2013 02:22 PM EDT

The United Negro College Fund (UNCF) partnered with MERCK to advance African-Americans in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines.

Thirty-seven promising African-American students pursuing STEM careers will be awarded scholarships and fellowships through the UNCF-MERCK Science Initiative (UMSI). The awards range from $25,000 for undergraduate recipients to $92,000 for postdoctoral recipients.

"By supporting the UNCF-MERCK Science Initiative, Merck is investing in the next generation of biological science and technology researchers and scholars that we need to be competitive in the 21st century," said UNCF president and CEO Michael L. Lomax, Ph.D., in the UNCF’s press release.  

American undergrads choose major-disciplines in natural science and engineering at far lower rates than their counterparts overseas, according to the National Science Board's Science and Engineering Indicators in 2012. African-Americans practicing biological sciences amount to less than 5 percent, reports the UNCF.

"We need to tap into the full range of talent and ideas available,” said Kenneth C. Frazier, Merck Chairman and CEO. “This important initiative helps ensure that outstanding African-American students can play a key role in addressing the significant and growing medical need here in the U.S. and around the world."

The UNCF says that UMSI also aims to increase minority leadership in the industries that are expected to have a surge in job growth by attracting students to STEM studies as early as elementary school.

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(Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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