Fisk/Vanderbilt Masters-to-PhD Bridge Program

HBCU Partnership

Kelly Holley-Bockelmann


Our site is a unique partnership between Fisk University and nearby Vanderbilt University, so if you choose to join the Bridge, you would be spending time at both places -- we would absolutely love to have you. We specialize in multi-messenger astronomy, computation and data science, galaxy formation and evolution, galactic structure, star clusters, black holes of any mass, and gravitational wave astronomy. We are involved in NANOGrav, LISA, LIGO, and SDSS-V, and we hired two new faculty who are experts in intermediate mass black hole observations. We are also starting EMIT (Establishing Multimessenger astronomy Inclusive Training) the first graduate certificate program in the nation in multimessenger astronomy, and we are incorporating diversity, equity and inclusion into teaching, research, and everything we do. If you are interested in these research areas and want to help build a better Bridge, join us!



The Fisk-Vanderbilt Master’s to PhD Bridge Program is focused on increasing underrepresented groups in STEM at the graduate level. After 18 years, 176 students have enrolled in the program, 126 Master’s degrees have been awarded, 112 students have bridged to PhD programs, and 53 students have earned the PhD, 41 of those from Vanderbilt.  Today, 30 students are in a Vanderbilt PhD program, while 25 are in a Fisk Master’s program. 57% of the students are African-American, 22% Hispanic, 7% other minorities, including Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander, and 14% white or other non-minority. 60% identify as female. Overwhelmingly, the student population has been underserved in intersecting ways, with many being first-generation college students, of low socioeconomic status, and/or with disabilities. We have built a culture of scholars who are committed to mentoring one another and are doing world-class research. We are always in need of great mentors, and we've found that postdoc mentors are really effective because students can see exactly what the next level can look like. And if you join us, we will be committed to mentoring you  — your whole self, not just your career.

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