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ORAU joins forces with Ecological Society of America to expand STEM opportunities for HBCU students, faculty

Our nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority-Serving Educational Institutions are often untapped resources abounding in talent, ingenuity, and expertise but often lacking in the material resources necessary for scientific research.

Tapping into HBCU talent resources is why ORAU and the Ecological Society of America officially began a working relationship with the signing of a memorandum of understanding during the ESA’s 108th annual meeting in Portland, Oregon, on Monday, August 7, 2023.


The ESA is an advocate for ecology and a voice for ecologists. ORAU is a recognized leader in connecting the best and most diverse students, recent graduates, faculty and professionals with world-class fellowships, internships, and jobs, whether in national laboratories, research institutions, federal government offices, or private sector research and development departments.

The MOU reflects the intent of both organizations to develop mutually enabling activities specifically focused on advancing ecological research by increasing the access and participation of HBCU students and faculty in world-class research experiences.

“This is a historic day for us,” said Catherine O’Riordan, ESA executive director. “At ESA, we have been redoubling our efforts to challenge and break down inequities to advance the science and practice of ecology. Expanding the in-reach of our 9,000-member organization to ORAU’s Minority Serving Institutions Research Council and beyond has the potential to be life-changing for students at those institutions.

The spirit of collaboration will be a driving force in ORAU’s relationship with ESA.

The MOU outlines a series of steps ORAU and ESA will take together, including holding listening sessions with HBCUs designed to identify opportunities to promote ecological research and education experiences to students and faculty; participating in targeted recruitment activities focused on increasing participation of HBCU students and faculty in ecological research opportunities; and building strategic alliances with agencies and organizations that support HBCUs specifically regarding the need to expand ecological research and education opportunities for students and faculty.

ORAU and ESA have agreed to the MOU for a period of three years.

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About ORAU

ORAU, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, provides science, health, and workforce solutions that address national priorities and serve the public interest. Through our specialized teams of experts and access to a consortium of more than 150 major Ph.D.-granting institutions, ORAU works with federal, state, local, and commercial customers to provide innovative scientific and technical solutions and help advance their missions. ORAU manages the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

Media Contacts

Pam BoneeDirector, CommunicationsCell: (865) 603-5142
Wendy WestManager, CommunicationsCell: (865) 207-7953