PER Seminar 3/29 - Casey Miller


Wednesday, March 29, 2017 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm


1400 Biomedical and Physical Sciences (BPS)

Admissions Criteria and Diversity in STEM Graduate Programs

The National Academies have suggested that increasing diversity in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math will be critical to the future competitiveness of the US in these areas [1], and both the National Science Foundation [2], the American Physical Society [3], and the American Astronomical Society [4] are taking this seriously.  In this talk, I will discuss several opportunities that may help move toward meeting this goal, and, importantly, the potential benefits to programs and individual investigators willing to take on these challenges. The most universally applicable and implementable actions regard perturbing graduate admissions policies and practices [5, 6], and employing key features of successful Bridge Programs into graduate programs [7].  Despite the prevalent use of minimum acceptable scores by admissions committees, there is no correlation between GRE scores and research ability. I will remind the community that the use of minimum acceptable GRE scores for admissions is in opposition to ETS’s Guide to the Use of GRE Scores, and I will present data showing that this practice will have (has had?) a negative impact on diversity in graduate programs.  I will conclude by discussing non-cognitive competencies and their role in student selection processes [8]. 

[1]   National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine, “Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America's Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads,” The National Acadamies Press (2011);

[2]   Joan Ferrini-Mundy, “Driven by Diversity,” Science 340, 278 (2013).



[5]   Casey W. Miller, “Admissions Criteria and Diversity in Graduate School,”APS News, The Back Page, February 2013.

[6]   Casey W. Miller and K. G. Stassun, Nature 510, 303-304 (11 June 2014) | doi:10.1038/nj7504-303a

[7]   Stassun, K.G., Sturm, S., Holley-Bockelmann, K., Burger, A., Ernst, D., & Webb, D., “The Fisk-Vanderbilt Masters-to-PhD Bridge Program: Broadening Participating of Underrepresented Minorities in the Physical Sciences. Recognizing, enlisting, and cultivating ‘unrealized or unrecognized potential’ in students”, American Journal of Physics 79, 374 (2011).

[8]   Casey W. Miller, “Using Non-Cognitive Assessments in Graduate Admissions to Select Better Students and Increase Diversity”, STATUS, p1, January (2015)



Casey W. Miller is an experimental condensed matter physicist focusing on nanoscale magnetic materials. He is an Associate Professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology, where he is Director of the Materials Science and Engineering program.  He served as Director of the University of South Florida’s APS Bridge Site, which was created by the American Physical Society in 2013.  He graduated summa cum laude with University and Physics Departmental Honors from Wittenberg University in 1999, where he was also elected to FBK. He earned his PhD from the University of Texas at Austin in 2003, earning the Department’s Best Dissertation Award for work combining Magnetic Resonance Imaging with Scanning Probe Microscopy.  His post-doctoral work at the University of California, San Diego, focused spintronics.  He is recipient of the prestigious NSF-CAREER and AFOSR-Young Investigator Awards.