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Florida A&M University Celebrates A Birthday And Record Research Funding

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Lydell Rawls
/
WFSU
Dr. Larry Robinson

At 134 years old, Florida A&M University (FAMU) is raking in record amounts of research funding. FAMU is ranked among the top 10 Historically Black College and Universities.

Amid a two-year funding boom, FAMU recently received its biggest grant ever: a $30-million award from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The money will be used to support the Center for Coastal and Marine Ecosystems (CCME) and its mission to train the next generation of scientists from underrepresented groups.

“50% of that $30 million will have to go to direct student support,” says FAMU President Larry Robinson. He directs CCME, which is comprised of half a dozen universities that are sharing the grant over 5 years. FAMU is the center’s lead institution.

“There's an emphasis on focusing on persons from underrepresented minority communities and getting them trained at undergraduate and graduate levels in NOAA-related STEM disciplines and social sciences,” Robinson says, “but also making sure that we leave NOAA and other places that they go more diverse.”

This new funding agreement extends and modifies the objectives of the initial five-year award from NOAA that started in 2016.

“In the first five years, we were able to recruit over 113 students through this program,” Robinson says. “About half of them are undergraduates and the other are Masters or PhD students.”

Major fields of study include computer science and environmental science with a concentration in marine science. Robinson says the center focuses on three areas that align with NOAA priorities: place-based conservation, coastal resilience, and coastal intelligence.

“We are here to address the problems associated with those thematic areas -- but by educating and training a new generation of scientists, particularly from underrepresented minority communities, in those areas,” Robinson says. “So that's really what keeps me excited about this whole opportunity.”

The grant money will help pay student travel expenses to conferences, tuition and fees, and living expenses for graduate students who will spend several months away working at a NOAA-related facility.