A group of UC Merced's researchers will focus their expertise on the campus in an effort to determine what can be done to ensure the university has a diverse faculty as it continues to grow.
Funded by the National Science Foundation's ADVANCE grant, researchers from all three schools will collect data about the status of women at UC Merced in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics and develop ways the campus can improve the climate for women.
"We can have a great impact on our faculty and their success," Natural Sciences  Dean and principal investigator Maria Pallavicini said.
The research team includes Pallavicini, sociology Professor Nella Van Dyke , psychology Professor Jan Wallander , mathematics Professor Arnold Kim  and engineering Professor Valerie Leppert . The project is called Gaining Representation of Women - Systemically Transforming Excellence in Merced, or GROW-STEM. The work is testament to the campus' commitment to celebrating and growing cultural and intellectual diversity in its faculty.
"UC Merced recruits professors from all backgrounds to ensure we have a faculty that reflects the diversity of our student body and of California," Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Keith Alley said. "As the campus grows, it's important to foster an environment that provides the necessary resources for those professors to succeed. The campus' success is intimately tied to the innovative work of our faculty."
The two-year, $199,962 grant is for collecting data about the campus' success in recruiting a diverse faculty and pinpointing what has helped or hindered it. A campus-wide survey will establish the current climate and what faculty members see as barriers to success. The research team will also interview applicants who turned down job offers to see what kept them from coming to work at UC Merced.
With the data and results from other campus, the researchers will identify best practices and innovative ways to support the recruitment, retention and promotion of a diverse faculty. With this information in hand, the researchers can apply for a four-year transformational grant to implement data-based improvements, Assistant Dean of the School of Natural Sciences De Acker said.
Acker said the School of Natural Sciences has been particularly successful in recruiting a diverse faculty because of Pallavicini's commitment to diversity and the hard work of the school's faculty. The dean carefully reviews the search plan and is careful to make sure each faculty search has a wide pool of applicants -- even extending the application deadline to lure more potential faculty members, Acker explained.
UC Merced will join other campuses, including UC Berkeley and UC Irvine, in studying ways to create a diverse faculty.