The mission of the Mentored Experiences in Research, Instruction, and Teaching (MERIT) Program is to provide experiences in both teaching and research that will permit a diverse community of postdoctoral scholars to become tomorrow's leading academicians. The immediate objective of the MERIT Program is to enhance the research backgrounds and teaching experiences of developing scientists to conduct high quality research in an academic environment. Long-term objectives for this program are three-fold: i) to enhance research oriented teaching at minority serving institutions;ii) to further promote interactions between research-intensive universities and minority serving institutions that will lead to collaborations in research and teaching;and iii) to increase the number of well qualified underrepresented minority students entering competitive careers in biomedical research. The MERIT Program will be facilitated by the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) in partnership with Miles College and Stillman College;all schools are located within a 50 mile radius. The proposed MERIT Program will include 3 years of concurrent research training and teaching instruction. The research component will incorporate laboratory-based instruction together with ethics training and professional skills development. The teaching component will include four key elements: i) teaching-related coursework;ii) one-on-one mentoring of an undergraduate student;iii) course development;and iv) classroom teaching experience. At the start of both the research and teaching components, each MERIT Scholar will devise personal development plans in order to determine his/her research- and teaching-related goals;these plans will be utilized to chart the progress of each MERIT Scholar toward these goals. Evaluation of the MERIT Program, which will be based upon a traditional Context, Input, Process, Product Model, will be critical to the Program's success. Through surveys, one-on-one interviews, and alumni monitoring, measurable values for MERIT Scholars as well as the participating institutions will be assessed. Results of all evaluations and assessments will be provided to the MERIT Program leadership for review and action. Because of its successes in the biomedical arena, UAB has a unique opportunity and responsibility to provide these experiences in a manner that will enhance research oriented teaching at minority serving institutions within Alabama. Public Health Relevance Statement: The mission of the Mentored Experiences in Research, Instruction, and Teaching (MERIT) Program is to provide experiences in both teaching and research that will permit a diverse community of postdoctoral scholars to become tomorrow's leading academicians. It will be facilitated by the University of Alabama at Birmingham in partnership with Miles College and Stillman College;all schools are located within Alabama.
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