Multicultural Initiative in Marine Science: Undergraduate Participation

  • Student working in the lab
  • Student scientists working in a lab
  • Students collecting algae from rocks
  • Students viewing a large seastar

The objective of the Multicultural Initiative in the Marine Sciences: Undergraduate Participation (MIMSUP) program, which ran for 25 years with funding from the National Science Foundation, was to introduce undergraduate students from groups underrepresented in the sciences to the possibility of pursuing advanced degrees and careers in the marine sciences. MIMSUP was designed to provide the knowledge base, motivation, skills and personal contacts necessary for our student participants to be successful in this endeavor. The program recruited eight students annually from 1990 to 2015 (seven in 1991) from institutions around the nation. Each group of students spent the Winter and Spring Quarters (January to June) at Shannon Point Marine Center (SPMC) taking marine science courses (offered primarily through the Department of Environmental Sciences); receiving training in laboratory and field investigative techniques, oral and written scientific communication; carrying out independent research and presenting poster and oral reports at national/international science conferences; and exploring career opportunities via site visits. Participants also provided weekly outreach lessons in marine science to children in local elementary schools.

Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Math and Engineering Mentoring

In a White House ceremony on March 18, 2003, Dr. Steve Sulkin, SPMC Director, accepted the award on behalf of the Shannon Point Marine Center. Shannon Point was one of six institutions in the nation the President honored for achieving "remarkable" increases in "participation of minorities, women, and disabled students" in scientific fields. Dr. Brian Bingham, director of the Minorities in Marine Science Undergraduate Program, for which Shannon Point received the honor, also was recognized for his work in promoting diversity. In a ceremony at the US Capitol, he received the Walter B. Jones/NOAA Excellence Award for Promoting Diversity in Coastal and Ocean Resource Management.

MIMSUP – Executive Summary (January 2010)

199 participants

  • 51% Latino/Hispanic
  • 24% African American
  • 14% Pacific Islander
  • 11% Native Americans or Native Alaskans

Average entering university GPA: 3.1
43% were 1st generation college students

Current status of program alumni

98.5% have completed or are currently pursuing an undergraduate degree

  • 10% subsequently pursuing professional degrees (MD, DDS, MBA, etc.)
  • 30% subsequently pursued MS degrees
  • 17% subsequently pursued the doctorate and are now working in academia, government agencies, consulting companies, and post-doctoral research positions

Alumni awards (199 participants)

  • 236 internship positions, including 73 National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates awards
  • 104 fellowships (including 6 NSF Graduate Research Fellowship awards)
  •  51 scholarships
  •  36 research grants (including a recent $995,000 NSF grant to a 2001 MIMSUP alumnus)
  •  39 academic awards
  •   4 alumni elected to positions on governing boards of major science societies: Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO), The Oceanography Society (TOS), the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, and the Society for Advancement of Hispanics/Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS)

Alumni science contributions

  • 210 publications in the refereed scientific literature
  • 468 presentations at regional, national or international science conferences (59 of these won best student presentation awards)