$1.5M STEM scholarships to advance future biologists with data science skills

alexandre pokes the head
Alexander Stokes

The University of Hawaii in Mānoa received $1.5 million for scholarships for low-income students pursuing studies focused on the biological application of data science. The five-year grant through the National Science Foundation Scholarships in STEM (ROD S), Training students through immersive data science teaching (stride) and will fund 67 scholarships for undergraduate and graduate students.

“The increasingly data-rich nature of the biological sciences creates the need for better professional preparation in data science to improve the competitiveness and employability of our graduates,” said uh Manoa Provost Michael Bruno“It’s a great opportunity to give our students invaluable skills to advance them in their future careers.

In addition to receiving tuition fees, some students at stride will benefit from professional development resources, including workshops and internships to build their resume and develop career-readiness skills. Majors include: Biology/Biological Sciences, Biochemistry, Botany, Biological Engineering, Microbiology, Molecular Biosciences and Biotechnology, Molecular Cell Biology, Natural Resources and Environmental Management, Tropical Plant Sciences, and Zoology.

photo of gwen jacobs
Gwen Jacobs

“Biology is an increasingly computational discipline,” said the lead researcher Alexander Stokes, assistant professor of cellular and molecular biology at the John A. Burns School of Medicine. “Today’s biologists, whether health practitioners, medical researchers or ecosystem scientists, all live in the age of big data. This program aims to ensure that future biologists trained by uh have the data science skills they need to succeed in their field.

Hawaii Data Science Institute (HI-DSI) Director and stride Co-Principal Investigator, Gwen Jacobs, echoes the need for data science training for future biologists. “Our state truly recognizes that data science is central to our future health, sustainability, and economic development. Programs like this will foster the workforce we need and, HI-DSI we are delighted that stride students will benefit from the training workshops and professional development programs we have developed.

Eligibility criteria

Eligible undergraduate students must have unmet financial need and at least 30 credits with a cumulative 3.0 GPA in a major in biological sciences. Eligible graduate students must be enrolled in a MRS Where PhD program with approximately three years to graduate in a non-clinical program.

As part of the two- or three-year program, students will participate in weekly seminars with guest speakers sharing their expertise in various areas of data science, training workshops, DataSkills training modules, projects and a project thesis or data-intensive dissertation paired with a HI-DSI associate research director.

Stokes said they were inspired to write the grant after seeing their own biomedical research pivot to using techniques such as artificial intelligence and machine learning in drug discovery and health equity.

“I realized firsthand the need for workforce development and training in this area, coupled with the fact that we have many talented students in Hawaii and the Pacific who need financial support in higher education, so ROD S Scholarships can really help these students pursue their dreams,” Stokes said.

For more information, email [email protected]

Valerie J. Wallis