$2.3M Grant to Fund WSSU Diversity Initiative in Biological Sciences

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) is the recipient of a $2.3 million grant that will support efforts to break barriers and boost diversity in the biological sciences.

The money was awarded by the National Institutes of Health and will be used to fund WSSU’s Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (RISE) program. The initiative seeks to better prepare students to enter graduate programs to obtain Ph.Ds, medical degrees, or both.

"We have less and less of minorities holding that position or doing cutting-edge research. So, it is now necessary to be able to draw minorities' attention to that area of research ...so they will serve as a role model for the next generation,” said Dr. Azeez Aileru, a WSSU professor who helped secure the grant.

Tenise Holloway, a WSSU senior, said such programs are necessary because of challenges minorities in the sciences sometimes face. She said historically black colleges and universities like WSSU are sometimes deemed less rigorous than other institutions.

“I'm African-American and a woman trying to pursue biostatistics: that's really rare,” Holloway added.

The grant money will span over five years, and Aileru said the program will seek to draw about 130 students over that timeframe. Professional development, career exploration, and research opportunities will be key components of the program.

"The diversity of people in a particular field is important so we can be able to have different perspectives of people, of a certain body of knowledge,” Aileru said.

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