Cal Poly Pomona is part of a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to increase the number of underrepresented minorities pursuing Ph.D.s in mathematics. The project, called BAMM! Bolstering the Advancement of Masters in Mathematics, is a joint effort between three CSU campuses.
Oscar Vega from Fresno State is the principal investigator (PI) on this project with co-PI’s Kimberly Seashore from San Francisco State, and John Rock and Robin Wilson from CPP mathematics and statistics.
“Out of the $1 million, $600,000 will fund scholarships for 30 students across three schools, and CPP will provide 10 students with two-year scholarships,” said Professor Robin Wilson. “This project builds on an existing 10-year partnership we have with the National Alliance for Doctoral Studies in the Mathematical Sciences. They’re an organization that includes Ph.D. granting institutions. They have a mentoring program and provide Ph.D. application assistance.”
The BAMM! program will include Math Alliance mentors from Ph.D. granting institutions, and CPP professors Rock and Wilson will mentor students during their master’s program. Second year graduate students will also mentor first year students.
“We’ve been taking our students to the Math Alliance’s Field of Dreams Conference where they can network, talk to other graduate students, find out about careers in industry, find out about Ph.D. programs and find a mentor,” Rock said.
“This is a model that has been successful for other programs such as Cal-Bridge, which has increased the number of physics and astronomy Ph.D.s. That program’s success helped influence the development of BAMM!,” Rock added.
BAMM! is based on six evidence-based best practices: mentoring and community building, support in Ph.D. program applications, travel to network and present research, strengthening academics, having a structured trajectory with benchmarks, and opportunities for community service.
“BAMM! will guide students through the master’s program and set them up for success in a Ph.D. program. This will help increase the pipeline of math teachers,” Wilson said.
The California State University system reports that at least 33,000 new math and science teachers will be needed over the next 10 years.
“There are jobs for graduates with a math degree and not just in education.” Wilson said. “A Ph.D. in math is valuable in business, industry, and government. Math is critical in fields such as software engineering, statistics, finance, and data science.”