Since 1989, primarily through summer internship programs, staff at the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources’ Marine Resources Division (SCDNR-MRD) have provided “hands on” research experiences to more than 120 minority undergraduate students recruited from colleges across the United States. These programs have been built around mentor-guided independent research projects which are widely valued as excellent opportunities to expose students to science and prepare them for careers in industry and government (Hendrickson, 1995; Hunter et al., 2006). In 1996, with funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF), MRD staff developed the Minorities in Marine and Environmental Sciences (MIMES) Program, an intensive program of mentor-guided research and classroom instruction ultimately intended to increase the representation of minorities in the marine and environmental sciences. Continued NSF funding from 2001-2005 allowed the MIMES Program to further broaden recruitment techniques, and to develop, review and analyze program results, thus providing feedback to enrich the program in each subsequent year. The departure and/or retirement of several MRD staff resulted in a brief hiatus of the MIMES Program from 2006-2009. MRD staff, however, recognizing the importance and previous successes of the MIMES Program, with funding support from the National Science Foundation, resurrected the program for the summer of 2010 and the program has been hosted at the SCDNR-MRD facilities at Fort Johnson each summer annually thereafter (typically with 8 interns supported in each year).
Key Minority Program Accomplishments
- More than 120 students have participated in summer research training programs at the SCDNR-MRD since 1989.
- An estimated 85% of these students have continued their education toward graduate science degrees or pursued a career in the sciences, including medicine.
- Recent iterations of the MIMS Program have seen increases in both the number and geographic distribution of applicants.
- MIMES Program interns' research efforts frequently contribute to important long-term, programmatic research efforts at the SCDNR-MRD.
- Many students have participated in local and national meetings both across the United States and overseas and several have won student awards. Meetings that MIMES students have attended include:
- American Society of Limnology and Oceanography
- Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies
- Southeastern Estuarine Research Society o American Fisheries Society
- South Carolina Alliance for Minority Participation
- Many students participate in other summer internship programs after their intern experience at SCDNR-MRD.
- Students have been listed as co-authors on publications led by MIMES mentors.