We seek funding for the planning phase of BUILDing Bridges in Alaska, a program to bridge the gap between University of Alaska Fairbanks rural campuses that offer 2-year degree and certificate programs and the baccalaureate and graduate degree-granting campus in Fairbanks. Alaskan higher education currently experiences a significant leak in our education pipeline at this gap, and diversity students leave higher education in greater proportion than the general population. BUILDing Bridges in Alaska -Planning Phase has 3 goals: 1) establish a team of faculty at rural and Fairbanks campuses who are dedicated to bridging the gap between 2-year study at rural sites and 4+-year study in Fairbanks;2) create a portfolio of biomedical undergraduate research projects that will engage rural students and sustain their interest;and 3) create a process for identifying and recruiting rural students who are appropriate for the BUILD program. The BUILD program we are planning will recruit students from the UAF rural campuses and learning centers to research-intensive summer programs in the years they are enrolled in courses at rural campuses. These encounters will introduce students to biomedical research in general and a specific project that can be carried out both at the Fairbanks and rural campuses. The intended outcome is that these students will be inspired and motivated, after 2 years in the program, to enroll at the Fairbanks campus to pursue baccalaureate degrees.
In response to the NIH recognizing a unique and compelling need to promote diversity in the biomedical workforce, UAF faculty have joined to produce this BUILD planning application. BUILDing Bridges in Alaska holds the promise to enhance biomedical educational experiences in rural Alaska and inspire and motivate rural students to pursue degrees and careers in biomedically related fields. Rural Alaskan students represent a unique diversity population that UAF is literally and figuratively uniquely positioned to serve.