Diversity is highly significant to our nation's future health, educational, scientific and research enterprise, yet, diversity in the biomedical and scientific workforce does not reflect the U.S. population. SPIRE (Seeding Postdoctoral Innovators in Research and Education) has established itself as an innovative postdoctoral research and career development training program whose goals are aligned with those of IRACDA: 1) to inspire and motivate undergraduate students from underrepresented groups to engage in science-based course content, research, and to pursue graduate degrees in science while 2) providing training in research, teaching, and career development that promotes success of scholars in their own career goals. The underlying hypothesis of SPIRE is that faculty who combine excellence in research and teaching, and value the importance of mentoring and diversity, will effectively train the next generation of scientists and promote diversity in the scientific workforce. In response to SPIRE's ongoing evaluation, the current proposal maintains many successful components while also introducing several innovations to benefit our partner universities and our scholars. This proposal will support 30 new scholars over the duration of 5 years and partner with four universities, each with an historical commitment to train students from underrepresented groups.
Specific Aims of the SPIRE program are to: 1. Recruit outstanding and diverse SPIRE scholars who represent the scientific mission of NIGMS and the education and research needs of our partner campuses. 2. Provide an outstanding research training experience by placing scholars in productive laboratories with mentors committed to the goals of SPIRE and ensuring that this research experience involves mentoring of undergraduates from our partner campuses. 3. Provide a mentored teaching experience at our partner campuses. This experience includes research-based courses and direct involvement with research initiatives at our partner campuses. 4. Provide training in professional skills that match the needs of our scholars and promote their success in attaining future positions in academia. Innovations in this proposed renewal include a) a new emphasis on recruiting SPIRE scholars with chemistry, physics and biomedical engineering backgrounds to meet the needs of our partner campuses;b) structured involvement with RISE and MARC programs at our partner campuses, including a summer research program at UNC/Chapel Hill for undergraduates from our partner campuses, c) new evaluation measures to track more effectively undergraduate student outcomes and d) mechanisms to facilitate the sharing of data and effective teaching strategies among current and former SPIRE scholars and faculty at our partner campuses. Impact:
We aim to continue and enhance our documented and significant impact on the curriculum and research enterprise of our partner universities, and on the training of new faculty who are successful in research and science education as well as in promoting the diversity of our future scientific workforce.
The proportion of advanced degrees awarded to underrepresented groups in the biomedical and STEM disciplines continues to be very small and does not reflect the current demographics in the US. To address this shortage, the SPIRE/IRACDA program provides training in both research and teaching that prepares postdoctoral scholars to inspire and promote increased representation of underrepresented groups in the scientific work force.
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