North Carolina A&T State University (NCA&T) has been recognized as a leader in the production of STEM baccalaureate degrees awarded to African Americans and is the number 4 institution of origin for African American PhDs in STEM. Since 85% of its total student enrollment is African American, NCA&T is an excellent position to become one of the top producers of African American students who pursue careers in biomedical and behavioral health sciences. Although African Americans enter STEM fields at the same rates as their White and Asian counterparts, a high percentage leave the STEM majors in the first and second years of college. This is in part due to lack of information about STEM careers, and feeling overwhelmed by the pace and load of STEM curricula. Another contributing factor is under-preparedness in prerequisites for and underperformance in "gatekeeper" science courses such as mathematics, chemistry, and biology. To increase the number of URMs in the biomedical and behavioral health sciences research career pipeline requires a comprehensive approach that not only recruits and retains students in STEM majors, but offers superior mentoring experiences that make biomedical research careers an attractive option. The overall objective of this BUILD planning grant is to put together a blueprint with inpu from stakeholders at NCA&T and research intensive partner institutions to identify and resolve differential factors that have been limiting our nations STEM talent pool. A series of focus group meetings, workshops, and retreats will be organized to develop strategies to achieve the following specific aims;1) Leverage resources at consortia institutions to transform the ability o each to recruit and retain URM students in biomedical research, 2) Create a blueprint to enhance the development of faculty who train URM students in biomedical research, 3) Create a plan for developing infrastructure conducive for undergraduate research training and networking, 4) Design approaches for transitioning and integrating students into the academic environment at research intensive institutions, and 5) Establish an administrative framework to coordinate the implementation and sustain BUILD Initiatives.
Building a diverse workforce in the biomedical and behavioral health sciences requires a comprehensive approach that addresses issues of recruiting, development of innovative curricula, the social environment, and support for faculty mentors. This planning proposal will facilitate development of innovative approaches for successful mentoring of URMs at various stages in the pipeline for PhD programs.