Texas Tech Institute Earns $1.08 Million NIH Grant

“Plains Bridges to the Baccalaureate Program” partners with South Plains College to encourage science education within underrepresented minority groups.

Jaclyn Canas. Jaclyn Cañas, director for the Plains Bridges to Baccalaureate Program, hopes to encourage more minority students to pursue science-based graduate degrees.
Three researchers at The Institute of Environmental and Human Health recently received a $1.08 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to implement the Plains Bridges to the Baccalaureate Program with South Plains College. Institute researchers Jaclyn Cañas, Stephen Cox and Trey Brown received the five-year grant. The program will partner with educators and minority science students at South Plains College to help those students transfer successfully from the college to Texas Tech. "Our goal is to help minority science students succeed in college and stimulate them to the point where they want to pursue a career in science," said Cañas, who will serve as program director. "We want them to go to South Plains College, come to get their bachelor's degrees at Texas Tech and continue on to graduate school." Cañas said institutes for higher education must develop programs to help minority students overcome the challenges they face in pursuing university degrees - especially in the sciences. While African-Americans, American Indians and Hispanics comprised 13 percent, 1.5 percent and 12.5 percent of the 2000 U.S. population, the 2005 Graduate Enrollment and Degrees Report found that they comprised only 12 percent, 1 percent and 7 percent of all graduate degrees. Cañas hopes to encourage more minority students to pursue science-based graduate degrees. They hope to have 48 students pass through the program in the next five years. The first 12 students in the program will begin this fall at South Plains College. Jay Driver and Philip Anderson, professors at South Plains College, and Texas Tech faculty members John Zak, Jorge Salazar-Bravo, Juan Muñoz and Zenaida Aguirre-Muñoz also aided in securing the funding.