"A Champion for HBCUs is central to Shepard fulfilling his destiny"
Robert Louis Shepard, PhD has pushed hard for increase participation of faculty and students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in the federal government's research enterprise. Early in his federal career Shepard provided definitive data showing the role a small cadre of these institutions can play in conducting high-quality research. In 1984, he was in the Office of Research at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) when he successfully secured joint funding from inside the agency to create NRC's first HBCU research support program. That same year, NRC granted Shepard a leave of absence under the Intergovernmental Personnel Assistance (IPA) program to become a Visiting Research Scientist in the Department of Chemistry at Howard University. Shepard used his IPA assignment to develop a conceptual framework demonstrating how collaborations and partnerships could be used to strengthen the research infrastructure at HBCUs resulting in more research output by these institutions.
At the end of his IPA assignment in 1988, Shepard returned to NRC. In 1990, he resigned from NRC to lead the formation of a University, Government, and Federal Laboratory 501(c)(3), non-profit partnership called the Science and Engineering Alliance, Inc. (known as SEA).