Our future depends on a robust scientific workforce. But racial and ethnic minorities are underrepresented in these fields, and millions of people who should be making important breakthroughs are instead--whether because of inadequate public education where they live, a lack of resources and support for college and graduate school, discrimination as they try to get their first job, or a culture of science that weeds out rather than encourages undergraduates--doing other work.
The 21-year-old senior at the University of California at Davis wasn’t concerned about the academic rigor or long hours spent in the classroom — it was the uneasiness he felt when his peers and instructors watched him. Briscoe, who is African American, studies computer engineering at UC Davis, where black students constitute fewer than 3 percent of students in the program. Often, he is the only black student in his classes.
The largely extracurricular world of math circles, competitions and summer camps is overwhelmingly white, Asian and Asian-American. These programs are often filled with students from well-off families, with parents who are professionals, many in technology or related fields, who see math as a key pathway of entry to increasingly selective colleges.
Researchers trying to figure out how to get more black and Latino students into science, technology, engineering and mathematics usually focus on those students’ college years. In a new study that capitalizes on data from the National Center for Educational Statistics and methods that address causality, Cornell sociologists looked at an earlier portion of the pipeline - in high school, when students’ commitment to STEM fields tends to solidify.
New observations from NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) mission is providing insight into how Earth is responding to rising levels of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere, and what this means for our future climate. Earth’s land and ocean currently absorb about half of all carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels, but it’s uncertain whether the planet can keep this up in the future.