Shannon Point Marine Center
Multicultural Initiative in the Marine Sciences: Undergraduate Participation
Shannon Point is an example of what Western stands for, an excellent undergraduate learning experience, including the opportunity for research undertaken with strong faculty mentoring. Under the leadership of Dr. Sulkin and Dr. Bingham the Minorities in Marine Science Undergraduate Program also demonstrates the importance of multicultural education at Western, our commitment to diversity in both programs and people, and our faculty’s ability to create innovative programs to fulfill that commitment.
The Multicultural Initiative in the Marine Sciences: Undergraduate Participation program at Western’s Shannon Point Marine Center in Anacortes has received continuous NSF funding since 1991 and has garnered national honors.
In October 2008, SPMC received another five-year $983,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to extend its nationally recognized program to promote a multicultural professional workforce in the ocean sciences. Every year, the Multicultural Initiative in Marine Science: Undergraduate Participation (MIMSUP) program brings eight undergraduates from Western Washington University and from other universities around the nation to SPMC to spend the winter and spring academic quarters at SPMC. The students take courses in ocean science, participate in workshops that provide hands-on training in use of laboratory and field investigative techniques, learn how to access the scientific literature, explore potential career paths in the ocean sciences, and conduct independent research projects. Students also participate in outreach activities by presenting marine biology lessons in local school classes.
SPMC’s successful approach to training students led to its receiving the 2002 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Math, and Engineering Mentoring. Through 2008, 141 of 143 student participants have successfully completed the program, with the same number having completed or are pursuing their bachelor’s degrees. Of the 121 participants who have completed their undergraduate degrees, 65 percent have gone on to some form of advanced education, including professional, master’s, and doctoral degrees. Program alumni have earned 29 scholarships, 46 fellowships, five research grants, 24 academic awards, have made more than 260 research presentations at regional and national science conferences and are co-authors on 52 scientific publications. The MIMSUP program has been supported by NSF continuously since 1991. The new grant will extend the program through the 2013 academic year.
Based on their MIMSUP experience, program alumni develop a strong connection to Shannon Point and to Western Washington University. In the summer of 2007, alumni from the 1991, 1992 and 1993 programs organized a MIMSUP reunion. Alumni and their families (from as far away as Hawaii and Puerto Rico) spent 2 days at Shannon Point remembering their MIMSUP experiences. Plans are already underway for future reunion activities.
In a March 2002 White House ceremony, Shannon Point director and program founder Stephen Sulkin accepted the 2002 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring. Shannon Point was one of six institutions in the nation President Bush honored for achieving “remarkable” increases in “participation of minorities, women and disabled students” in scientific fields. The National Science Foundation administers the award, which carries a $10,000 grant. The following day, also in Washington, D.C., program director Brian Bingham was one of six nationwide to receive a Management Excellence Award from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for “promoting diversity.” Dr. Bingham won WWU's Diversity Achievement Award in June 2003.