Graduate Student Grant Participation Opportunity with the Social Security Administration (SSA)

SSA is excited again to offer graduate students the opportunity to participate in one of our small grant programs in the Fall of 2015!   Selected participants for the Disability Determination Process Small Grant Program receive a $10,000 stipend for a one year project to research enhancements to SSA’s Disability Determination processes.  Please refer to the SSA website link below or the attached flyer for further details on the grant opportunity.

While the  grant opportunities are available to all graduate students pursuing full-time studies in accredited programs as of Fall semester of 2015. We hope for strong participation from the MSI community.  Please note that the application deadline is March 2, 2015.

Disability Determination Process Small Grant Program participation opportunity:    After opening this link, please select the link on the words, “PRI website” for the Program Description and How to Apply information.

You may contact Thomas Rush (, Laura King (,  if you have any questions.


Xavier receives $19.6 million NIH award to enhance diversity in the biomedical workforce

Xavier receives $19.6 million NIH award to enhance diversity in the biomedical workforce

NEW ORLEANS (October 22, 2014) – This afternoon Xavier University of Louisiana received a $19.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as part of the national Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity (BUILD) Initiative. Xavier will use the grant to expand the already thriving biomedical programs the historically Black university offers its students.

“Xavier is already number one in the nation as the primary undergraduate source of African American Ph.D.s in the life sciences,” said Dr. Norman Francis, president of Xavier University. “Yet, with this grant, we believe we can triple the number of these graduates and increase the number of African American life science Ph.D.s nationally by 10%. We are proud that NIH has named us one of the institutions that it believes can uniquely contribute to this important goal.”

The award is part of a $240 million NIH investment involving more than 10 institutions to develop new approaches to engage student researchers, including those from underrepresented backgrounds, and prepare them to thrive in the NIH-funded workforce. Xavier and fellow awardees will establish a national consortium to train, mentor and encourage students from underrepresented groups to enter into and stay in research careers.

“These awards represent a significant step towards ensuring that NIH’s future biomedical research workforce will reflect the unique perspectives found within the diverse composition of our society,” said Dr. Hannah Valantine, NIH chief officer for scientific workforce diversity.

“Participation in faculty research projects is a major reason for Xavier’s success in graduating STEM [science, technology and engineering] students, many of whom go on to get the Ph.D.,” said Dr. Gene D’Amour, the university’s principal investigator for the grant. “Working with our partner

research universities across the nation, this NIH grant will greatly increase the opportunities for our students to become even more actively engaged in cutting-edge research and to go on to get life science Ph.D.s.”

Xavier will serve as the primary institution for its grant, “Project PATHWAY: Building Integrated Pathways to Independence for Diverse Biomedical Researchers.” It has partnered with Johns Hopkins University, Emory University, the Louisiana State University and its Health Science Center, Tulane University, The University of Wisconsin, Meharry Medical College, George Washington University, Penn State University, the University of Rochester and the University of California San Francisco. Xavier will conduct and oversee the program’s implementation to broaden the interests of students early in their college careers and attract them to a life sciences Ph.D. The primary benefit to the 11 partners is access to Xavier STEM students to participate in their summer research programs and ultimately attract these students to their graduate programs. These students, known as BUILD Scholars, are motivated undergraduate science students with an interest in doing research and pursuing a Ph.D.

“The Laney Graduate School at Emory University is pleased to partner with Xavier University to implement the BUILD Initiative. Our commitment to enhancing diversity and inclusion at Emory is being implemented through robust, innovative programming that creates pipelines to increase the number of underrepresented students entering and progressing through doctoral programs in the biomedical sciences. Partnership with Xavier University will undoubtedly benefit ¬ and better ¬ our efforts. A deeper level of engagement with BUILD scholars during their undergraduate experience will create opportunities that we hope will not only attract them to our programs at Emory, but ultimately create and nurture a biomedical workforce that is more representative of the unique perspectives and diversity of our nation,” said Lisa A. Tedesco, Ph.D., Dean, James T. Laney School of Graduate Studies, Emory University.

The BUILD Initiative is expected to include five integrated components:

  •  Tuition scholarships, including stipends, for undergraduate BUILD scholars and possible loan repayment funds for those who pursue a Ph.D.
  • Training and mentorship experiences for students across a wide range of disciplines in the biomedical sciences;
  • Salary support for key faculty responsible for research training;
  • Resources for highly effective mentors to train new mentors; and
  • Support for an “innovation space” environment for BUILD awardee institutions to develop additional creative and novel approaches to increase the diversity of the student pool that enters the Ph.D. training pathway relevant to biomedical research

“This NIH grant just could not be a more exciting opportunity for Xavier faculty and students to expand our research mentoring and training efforts to now ensure even a greater number of our graduates will pipeline into STEM terminal degree programs and subsequent biomedical research careers,” said Dr. Maryam Foroozesh, Interim Associate Vice President for Research and Sponsored Programs at Xavier. “Not only does this award speak to the value that Xavier holds for our nation and the world relative to the effective training of biomedical research leaders but also reflects a deep alignment with Xavier’s commitment to its mission and appreciation of its rich history.”

For information about the BUILD awardees and partners, please visit


UDC and Aruba Collaborate to Promote Food and Water Security

The College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences (CAUSES) of the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) and the Island Nation of Aruba have signed a Memorandum of Understanding, entering an agreement to collaborate on capacity-building skills and knowledge in support of food and water security. The MOU, which was signed Friday, Oct. 3, marks the latest international collaboration for the University.

“This agreement signifies our joint commitment to a sustainable future; to a future of food security, of water security and of innovative ways to enhance economic productivity by utilizing the tremendous capacity of nature,” stated Dr. James E. Lyons, Sr., Interim President of UDC.

The Prime Minister of Aruba, The Honorable Michiel Godfried Eman, joined President Lyons and CAUSES Dean Dr. Sabine O’Hara for the MOU signing which took place at UDC’s Van Ness campus. Prime Minister Eman also holds the title of Minister of Science, Innovation and Sustainable Development.

“Science, Innovation, and Sustainable Development are precisely what we teach, research and offer through our five landgrant centers to the residents of the District of Columbia,” explained Dr. Sabine O’Hara, Dean of CAUSES and Director of Landgrant Programs for UDC. “We also seek to collaborate with likeminded partners around the world who share our vision of a sustainable future.”

CAUSES embodies the landgrant tradition of the UDC.  As such, the College is part of a rich history and national network of universities that focus on agriculture, applied technology, nutrition, and health. What sets CAUSES apart is that its programs focus on urban sustainability, and on innovative ways to produce food on small areas of land. Programs such as these allow CAUSES to take advantage of collaborations like the one with Aruba.

Aruba, an island nation in the Caribbean Sea located 15 miles north of Venezuela, is a diverse constituent country of the Netherlands. Only 11 percent of Aruba’s land is arable. The nation imports 90 percent of its food, and $3.162 billion of total goods annually. The island, has invested greatly in a sustainable future. Ten large windmills line the coast, and by 2020, the country will generate its energy from renewable sources, eliminating its dependency on fossil fuels. Other green initiatives are also underway to preserve the environment for future generations. The Prime Minister joined Dean O’Hara for an episode of CAUSES TV, to discuss the similarities and challenges between Aruba and Washington, D.C.

The College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences is playing a major role in helping Washington, D.C. to become more sustainable and its residents to be healthier and more food secure. Food security refers to having access to a steady, dependable supply of nutritious food that supports a healthy and active lifestyle. CAUSES has launched a number of community partnerships that connect the dots between locally grown food, nutritional health and economic empowerment. Its programs offer D.C. residents the skills to grow their own food, and the UDC research farm provides expertise to make urban farming a successful business venture. For more information on CAUSES, visit For more information on Aruba, visit





Graduate Student Grant Participation Opportunity with the Social Security Administration (SSA)

SSA is excited again to offer graduate students the opportunity to participate in one of our small grant programs in the Fall of 2015!   Selected participants for our Disability Determination Process Small Grant Program receive a $10,000 stipend for a one year project to research enhancements to SSA’s Disability Determination processes.  Please refer to the SSA website link below or the attached flyer for further details on the grant opportunity.

Grant opportunities are available to all graduate students pursuing full-time studies in accredited programs as of Fall semester of 2015.  Please note that the application deadline is March 2, 2015.  Information about this Disability Determination Process Small Grant Program participation opportunity:   – After opening this link, please select the link on the words, “PRI website” for the Program Description and How to Apply information.

You may contact Thomas Rush (, Laura King (, if you have any questions.  Thank you for your assistance.


U.S. Education Department Announces Final Rule to Strengthen Federal Direct PLUS Loan Program

Today, the Department of Education announced publication of a final rule to strengthen the Federal Direct PLUS Loan Program, helping more students and families pay for college, and ensuring they have the tools and resources to make informed decisions about financing their educational pursuits.  The new regulations will both expand student access to postsecondary education and safeguard taxpayer dollars by reflecting economic and programmatic changes that have occurred since the program was established over 20 years ago.

“The Department’s top priority is to ensure more students can access and successfully complete a postsecondary education,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “The updated borrowing standards for the PLUS loan program demonstrate our commitment to ensuring families have access to the financing they need to reach their goal, while being good stewards of taxpayer money.”

The final regulations update the definition of “adverse credit history” for PLUS loan applicants, and implement a streamlined application process for borrowers to obtain a PLUS loan, specifically for those with adverse credit histories. Economic conditions have changed considerably in the last 20 years, and this update will ensure the regulations reflect current circumstances.

The Department is also taking action to provide families with clear, customized information about their loan obligations to support their college financing decisions and ensure their loan debt stays manageable.  To better ensure families are aware of, fully understand, and comfortable with their loan obligations, the Department is developing a new loan counseling tool that would provide customized information to assist PLUS borrowers.  While PLUS borrowers with an adverse credit history determination would be required to complete counseling before their loan could be approved under the Department’s reconsideration process, the tool will be made available to all PLUS loan borrowers.

Finally, to provide more transparency in the PLUS loan program, the Department will also collect and, where appropriate, publish information about the performance of PLUS loans, including default rate information based on credit history characteristics of PLUS loan borrowers and individual institutional default rates.


Prior to the final regulations issued today, the definition of “adverse credit history” under the regulations had not been updated since the Direct Loan program was established in 1994.

The development of the final rule reflects extensive outreach by the Department , including four public hearings across the country to gather feedback and recommendations from students, families, higher education leaders, and community organizations.  The negotiated rulemaking committee then held four sessions from February to May, and reached agreement on the definition of adverse credit history under the regulation.  These draft provisions were published in the Federal Register as a proposed rule (NPRM) on August 8, and included a 30-day public comment period.

The final rule, which will be published in the Federal Register Thursday, Oct. 23, establishes a threshold debt amount of $2,085, indexed to inflation, below which a potential borrower is considered to not have an adverse credit history.

Other changes include:

  • Defining terms such as debt “charged off” and “in collection” to more accurately determine whether an applicant has an adverse credit history.
  • Reducing the time period of a borrower’s credit history that is considered to determine adverse credit history from the last five years to the last two years for charge offs and collections.
  • Requiring that PLUS Loan applicants who, despite having adverse credit are able to receive a PLUS Loan based on either demonstrating extenuating circumstances or by obtaining an eligible endorser, participate in loan counseling.

Under the “master calendar” provision of the Higher Education Act (HEA), the final regulations are scheduled to go into effect July 1, 2015; however, the Department is designating the final regulations for early implementation under section 484(c)(2) of the HEA.  The Department intends to work closely with stakeholders, including our college partners, as they implement the provisions of the new regulation. As current eligibility procedures such as adverse credit history determinations reside with the Education Department’s Office of Federal Student Aid, we expect limited impact on current institutional procedures and processes for the packaging of student loans.

The Obama Administration has made historic investments to increases the maximum Pell grant award by $1,000, create the $2,500 American Opportunity Tax Credit, and enact effective student loan reforms that eliminated subsidies to banks and reinvested in America’s students and families to make college more affordable.  Along with these efforts, today’s actions expand college opportunity and ensure families have the finances they need to succeed in their college pursuits, to help us reach the President’s goal for America lead the world in college graduation.

Senior Job Opportunity with the U.S. Department of the Interior – Closes October 31, 2014

Job Title:Chief Learning Officer/Director of the Office of Strategic Employee and Organizational Development

Department:Department Of The Interior

Agency:Office of the Secretary of the Interior

Job Announcement Number:OS-SES-GPH-14-MM1233876


The maximum pay for individuals who have not previously held an SES position is $167,000 (EX-III).  Current SES members who earn more than $167,000 (EX-III) are eligible to be compensated up to $181,500 (EX-II).

The Department of the Interior has a multifaceted mission that combines natural resource protection, recreation, natural resource use, services to communities and individuals, and biological and earth sciences.   We are seeking individuals who share a passion for our country’s most valuable resources and a commitment to obtaining, training, and retaining a highly skilled and diverse workforce needed to accomplish our exciting and challenging mission.


The duties include, but are not limited to:

The Chief Learning Officer/Director of the Office of Strategic Employee and Organizational Development addresses the training and employee development needs for DOI employees nationwide by providing executive oversight and leadership in the development of integrated learning programs that ensure all DOI employees have the knowledge and skills to accomplish Department mission objectives and strategic goals.   The incumbent collaborates with leadership from across the Department, as well as the Deputy Assistant Secretary – Human Capital and Diversity, the Director, Office of Human Resources, and the Chief Diversity Officer/Director, Office of Civil Rights to identify short and long term needs, as well as significant skill and competency gaps, and to develop and implement Department-wide training and leadership programs.   The incumbent serves as a key advisor to the Departmental and bureau leadership and training officials  regarding learning and leadership programs, strategies and policies

Learn more at: at

Social Science Research Analyst – Office of the Secretary of the Interior – Closes on October 30, 2014.

Department:Department Of The Interior

Agency:Office of the Secretary of the Interior

Job Announcement Number:OS-KN-15-MM1223639(DEU)

The Department of the Interior is devoted to protecting and preserving the natural resources of this great nation, including National Parks, Landmarks, and the well-being of communities, including those of Native American, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, and affiliated Islanders.

This position is in the Programs and Compliance Division of the Office of Civil Rights (OCR), Office of the Secretary (OS), U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI). The incumbent is responsible for studying DOI workforce data and developing and implementing advanced social science research to identify potential root causes that may limit employment opportunities. Such activities include the examination of DOI and bureau workforces and EEO programs to identify employment barriers and recommend solutions to overcome the barriers. The incumbent is also responsible for supporting OCR activities ranging from the formulation of data requests to the development of statistical evidence and other research to assist DOI provide equal employment opportunities for all and become a model employer.


The Office of Civil Rights has determined that the duties of this position are suitable for telework and the selectee may be allowed to telework with supervisor approval.

The major duties of this position include, but are not limited to the following: • Prepares both pre-formatted and customized analyses that can be used to evaluate workforce data and trends and identify employment barriers and methods to overcome the barriers. Extracts, formats, and integrates workforce data from a wide variety of sources to develop reports, charts, graphs, diagrams, tables and other related statistical and analytical documents. • Utilizes and participates in the development of automated systems to retrieve and analyze EEO program data. Provides technical assistance to staff in the use of desktop applications that provide and analyze EEO program data. • Develops analytic reports using EEO program data that view agencies, industries and other labor market factors to determine where DOI efforts would be most productive for barrier analysis and resolution. • Prepares and assists in the preparation of labor market analyses that examine DOI’s utilization of women, race/ethnic groups, older workers and disabled workers. • Identifies DOI employment practices (to include hiring, promotion, compensation, and retention) that are at variance with civil rights laws, executive orders, regulations, guidance, and DOI policy.   • Supports DOI and bureau activities ranging from the formulation of data requests to the development of statistical evidence and reports.

Additional information on the qualification requirements is outlined in the OPM Qualification Standards Handbook of General Schedule Positions and is available at OPM’s website:

APPLICANT SEARCH: Head, NSF Office of International Science and Engineering

The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently launched a national search for the National Science Foundation’s Head of the Office of International Science and Engineering (OISE). OISE oversees NSF’s international research and education portfolio, and works closely with our disciplinary research directorates to develop an agency-wide strategy to cultivate international collaboration.

The Office Head is a member of the NSF senior management team, and communicates and interacts with all of the staff, programs, and activities of the Foundation. The incumbent advises the Director, Deputy Director, and other senior managers on issues related to international scientific collaboration. The Office Head leads a diverse group of over 30 program managers, analysts, and support staff at NSF headquarters, as well as nine staff at three overseas offices in Paris, Tokyo, and Beijing.

NSF seeks your help in disseminating this opportunity and encouraging qualified people to apply for this crucial post. Ideal candidates must demonstrate outstanding leadership; a deep appreciation for the role that international collaboration can play in U.S. science, technology, engineering, and mathematics research and education; a grasp of the issues and challenges involved in communicating that role to stakeholders; and the ability to serve effectively as a key member of the NSF management team. NSF is especially interested in identifying women, members of minority groups, and persons with disabilities for this vital post. Individuals from any sector – academic, industry, or government – are welcome to apply.

Please see for a full position description, and instructions on submitting an application. Applications must be submitted by December 1, 2014.

NIH Invites your participation in the “National Strategy for Expanding Scientific Workforce Diversity: Developing an Action Plan” Webinar

As you know, NIH has renewed and extended its commitment to diversifying the scientific workforce through the Common Fund Diversity Program and by hiring one of us as NIH’s first Chief Officer for Scientific Workforce Diversity.

The goal of the upcoming webinars is to obtain input from academic leaders about how to advance scientific workforce diversity, in support of excellence in biomedical research. We are looking to you, as academic leaders, to help establish a framework for a comprehensive plan to expand the participation of currently underrepresented groups in biomedical research. Underrepresented groups include women, certain racial/ethnic groups, people with disabilities, and the economically disadvantaged. The overarching goal of the framework will be to accelerate the expansion of diversity among biomedical researchers.  Recruiting, retaining and advancing the most talented scientists at every stage of the biomedical research career path can enhance this rate.

Expanding diversity is viewed as a priority for achieving NIH’s goals for human health and training the next generation of scientists and scientific leaders. NIH has already introduced an integrated set of initiatives that will provide infrastructure for less research-intensive institutions to expand diversity in the biomedical research pipeline, complemented by processes to ensure fairness in peer review of NIH-funded grants.  Oversight and coordination of NIH’s scientific workforce diversity efforts under the leadership of a Chief Officer for Scientific Workforce Diversity has been established as a key element necessary for success. But NIH cannot do this alone.  We need the insights, perspectives, and ideas of academic leaders to develop a comprehensive approach that has the greatest potential for success.

Please submit your RSVP and selection date at the following link by Nov. 5th.  We may invite you to pose your questions during the webinar.

We look forward to having you join us for this important discussion!