STEM Majors No Longer Eligible for Mellon Mays Fellowship

Effective this year, students majoring in Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics (STEM) subjects will no longer be eligible for the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF). The MMUF is a program that seeks to address the underrepresentation and lack of diversity among faculty in colleges and universities across the nation by encouraging students who want to pursue a PhD in their respective field through faculty mentorship and individual research projects.

Currently, 20 juniors and seniors from Harvey Mudd College, Scripps College, Pitzer College, and Pomona College are MMUF Fellows, with the majority being from Pomona. The program is in its second year at the Claremont Colleges.

The major changes to the nationwide fellowship include an increased focus on Arts, Humanities, and some Social Sciences, Shahriar Shahriari, MMUF faculty academic coordinator and math professor at Pomona College wrote in an email to TSL.

As far as future Mellon Mays Fellows, ten rising juniors will replace this year’s graduating seniors. These rising juniors will be selected in the spring. According to Pomona Dean of Students Miriam Feldblum, the fellowship is “actively recruiting across the campuses.” However, due to the decision about STEM fellows, the fellowship is no longer recruiting at HMC, according to Shahriari.

Current Fellows who are STEM majors will continue to receive resources and helps from the program. The policy changes only affect future classes of fellows.

The Claremont Colleges themselves are making three major changes to how they run their MMUF program. The first of these is that “students who are accepted as MMUF fellows” must “apply for and participate in a structured summer program for their first summer as MMUF fellows,” Feldblum wrote in an email to TSL.

Mellon Mays Fellows who are juniors also must apply to do an independent study course with their research mentor to work on their research, wrote Feldblum.

Finally, Feldblum wrote that the Fellowship discourages fellows from studying abroad during their junior year so that they can focus more on their independent study and the fellowship.

Feldblum wrote that the college “will continue to review how they are working for the Fellows and the research mentors, and make revisions as needed” in order to “ensure that the program is most beneficial to the Fellow’s educational goals and their ability to thrive and grow as scholars.”

Conversely, the changes on the national level are final and rooted in the fellowship’s strong commitment to the humanities and arts, which can also include selected social sciences.

Following all of these changes, the updated list of accepted areas of undergraduate studies can be found on the Mellon Mays website.

If any prospective sophomores are interested in becoming Mellon Mays Fellows, there are two remaining information sessions regarding applications on Friday, Dec. 2 at 1:15 p.m. in Avery 226 at Pitzer College and Wednesday, Dec. 7 at 4:00 p.m. in the Draper Center for Community Partnerships at Pomona College.

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