Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) has chosen nine students from disadvantaged backgrounds to receive a fellowship covering $44,000 per year to cover the cost of graduate school. The Gilliam fellowship, named after after James H. Gilliam, a former HHMI trustee who fostered diversity in science education, covers up to five years of a student's graduate training. HHMI draws applicants from former participants of its Exceptional Research Opportunities Program, in which undergrads spend a summer internship with an HHMI investigator. Applicants must be nominated by a mentor; then the Institute looks for the best of the bunch.

Previous awardees of the Gilliam Fellowship program

How does HHMI define "best"? Maryrose Franko, the senior program officer for grants, said that aside from the standardized test scores, she looks for recommendations that sing praises of a student's creativity and independence in the lab. When she reads letters that describe a student's "good hands,"...

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