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Miami Dade College Wins $1.7 Million Grant to Help Minority Students Earn Microbiology Degrees in Partnership with University Of Florida


Miami, September 13, 2012 - A team of Miami Dade College (MDC) and University of Florida (UF) faculty members has won a five-year, $1.7 million federal grant to expand a distance-education program enabling MDC students to earn a bachelor’s degree in microbiology from UF.

The grant was recently announced by the National Science Foundation’s Division of Undergraduate Education. The grant is part of an NSF effort to increase the number of science, technology, engineering and mathematics graduates, known as the STEM Talent Expansion Program.

Launched last fall, the program is aimed at students from minority groups traditionally underrepresented in STEM disciplines. It is based at MDC’s North Campus, where 90 percent of students are Hispanic or African-American. With the distance-ed option, students can attend UF without relocating to Gainesville, thereby reducing expenses and enabling students to maintain employment and personal responsibilities.

“MDC and its School of Science are truly excited about NSF’s support of this innovative new way to attract more students into quality science programming,” said Dr. Heather Belmont, dean of the School of Science. “We look forward to working closely with UF to promote this partnership.”

“We believe this program will allow students to become science graduates who otherwise would be unable to do so for financial or cultural reasons,” said Eric Triplett, principal investigator for the grant and chairman of UF’s microbiology and cell science department, part of the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. “This is one of the very few science degrees available by distance education anywhere in the U.S. from a top research university.”

The funding will help officials at both institutions improve the existing program by offering new features that may improve retention: scholarships, peer-to-peer tutoring, career mentoring and undergraduate research experiences.

Lecture classes are taught online, but students will do their lab work in person at MDC or one of several UF facilities in South Florida.

The program is open to all students, regardless of ethnicity, who have received an associate of arts degree from MDC and earned minimum grades in prerequisite courses. MDC and UF have a long history of collaborating including on the nationally renowned New World School of the Arts at MDC.

Media-only contacts:
Juan Mendieta, 305-237-7611,, MDC communications director
Tere Estorino, 305-237-3949,, MDC media relations director
Sue Arrowsmith, 305-237-3710,, media specialist
Alejandro Rios, 305-237-7482,

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