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Increasing diversity in planetary science through the inclusion and retention of international graduate students

Presentation #320.02 in the session Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility in Planetary Science (Oral Presentation)

Published onOct 23, 2023
Increasing diversity in planetary science through the inclusion and retention of international graduate students

Immigration has historically contributed to enhancing the diversity of American society; however, international graduate students (IGS) from underrepresented groups have been neglected from initiatives to promote diversity and inclusion within American universities. Considering that there is a significant overlap between international graduate students and members of underrepresented minorities, these initiatives unfairly neglect many students the universities are supposed to help. International students in planetary science are also affected by legal restrictions to work in national laboratories and receive government funding from NASA and NSF fellowships. While there is a path for international students to become successful academics and research scientists in American institutions, recognizing their current limitations and compiling resources to overcome these limitations will facilitate the inclusion and retention of international students and increase the diversity in planetary and other fields of science.

As part of the Science Leadership fellowship awarded by the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences at Purdue University, we have implemented one of three initiatives to help with the inclusion and retention of international students. We compiled resources to facilitate reviewing graduate school applications of students from China, India, and Mexico. These resources include the GPA scale used, a list of top universities and national labs per country, average GRE scores, etc. Additionally, we compiled general notes about the main challenges faced by the students from these countries in their pursuit of graduate education in the US, with a lack of initial financial support being the main issue. We propose the creation of international student fellowships awarded upon the arrival of the students and funded by the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusions initiatives. Future work will involve developing a welcome and exit workshop that provides TA, taxes, academic, and immigration advice to incoming and graduating IGS.

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