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Initiative to expand Ph.D. student diversity in STEM graduate programs has lasting positive effects

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For more than a decade, leaders of the Initiative to Maximize Student Development at Brown University have worked not only to expand diversity among doctoral students in the University’s science, technology, engineering and math programs, but also to propel the career success of underrepresented students over the long term — in effect, increasing diversity in STEM on a much larger scale. A new study in the Journal for STEM Education Research shows that the program is doing exactly that. Read more.

In socially distanced Graduate School ceremony, speakers call on peers to ‘show up’ and ‘do good work’

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For brief moments, a casual onlooker could be forgiven for assuming Brown’s Graduate School Ceremony during Commencement Weekend was no different than ever.

Like the ceremonies of years past, the event on Saturday, May 1, opened with a stirring rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” by one of Brown’s own — Arlen Austin, a Ph.D. graduate in modern culture and media. As usual, Graduate School Dean Andrew G. Campbell took to the podium to preside, welcoming and congratulating the 763 master’s and Ph.D. graduates. Read more.

Student Research: Thick lithosphere casts doubt on plate tectonics in Venus’s geologically recent past

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At some point between 300 million and 1 billion years ago, a cosmic object smashed into the planet Venus, leaving a crater more than 170 miles in diameter. A team of Brown University researchers, including doctoral student Evan Bjonnes, has used the ancient impact scar to explore the possibility that Venus once had Earth-like plate tectonics. For a study published in Nature Astronomy, the researchers used computer models to recreate the impact that carved out Mead crater, Venus’s largest impact basin. Mead is surrounded by two clifflike faults — rocky ripples frozen in time after the basin-forming impact. Read more.

Student Research: A new tool discovered for reconstructing ancient sea ice to study climate change

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Sea ice is a critical indicator of changes in the Earth’s climate. A new discovery by Brown University researchers, including Karen Wang, a doctoral student in Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences, could provide scientists a new way to reconstruct sea ice abundance and distribution information from the ancient past, which could aid in understanding human-induced climate change happening now. In a study published in Nature Communications, the researchers show that an organic molecule often found in high-latitude ocean sediments, known as tetra-unsaturated alkenone (C37:4), is produced by one or more previously unknown species of ice-dwelling algae. As sea ice concentration ebbs and flows, so do the algae associated with it, as well as the molecules they leave behind. Read more.

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