An R25 Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) for under-represented minority (URM) students will be developed at Michigan State University (MSU). It will provide a 12-week beginning research experience in environmental toxicology and health, with emphasis on the mechanisms of action of environmental toxicants, for 7 per year undergraduate student's science majors after their 1st or 2nd yr of class work; 4 positions will be set aside for these students. The remaining positions will be available to any student. A minimum of 5 positions per year will be allocated for under-represented minority students. The focus is on 1st time research experience on hypothesis-directed projects related to environmental health. The ultimate goal is to encourage under-represented minority students to enroll in Ph.D. programs in environmental health or allied biomedical sciences. There are three objectives. The first and principal objective is to provide an intensive experience in hypothesis-directed research on projects relevant to the NIEHS mission, as this is often the critical first step to launching a student into a successful graduate career. A second objective is to enhance students' communication skills, especially with respect to scientific presentations. The third objective is to develop a sense of mentored community. Students will supplement the research experience with a series of social and professional development opportunities. A one-week long bootcamp entitled Introduction to Laboratory Research will precede the student beginning their project. It will serve as a foundation to provide a cohesive introduction to the fundamental aspects of working in a laboratory. The proposed SURE program leverages partnerships developed by the Principal Investigator with two undergraduate institutions in the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) system: UPR-Cayey and UPR-Arecibo, as well as minority serving institutions (MSIs) in the Southwest. Each of these institutions lacks significant research opportunities. These partnerships have resulted in 17 Hispanic students entering Ph.D. programs in biomedical sciences over the past 5 years. Recruiting will involve visits to the campuses by the Principal Investigator, and will be coupled with a seminar exposing the students to concepts in environmental health sciences. Summer research projects will be in federally-funded laboratories of investigators with research interests in environmental toxicology and health. Enrichment activities will include the weekly informal presentations on student's research, discussion of career opportunities and ethical aspects of research; a final oral and poster presentation will be required. These activities will improve students' presentation skills and help them focus on the bigger picture of translational biomedical sciences. Students will be encouraged to attend national scientific meetings to present their research. Ideally, these meetings will also have career development/educational activities for undergrads such as those at the Society of Toxicology meeting. This will further students' exposure to environmental toxicology and health, allow them to network, and develop a sense of community with other under-represented minority undergrads. A long- term outcome is increasing the number of under-represented minority scientists in the biomedical/environmental health sciences.
A summer research program in environmental health and toxicology will provide opportunities for underrepresented minority students to receive first time mentored introductory experiences in laboratory research. Coupled with professional development activities aimed at improving both verbal and written scientific communication, introduction to research career opportunities in environmental health and ethical conduct of research, the proposed program should prepare the student for a more extensive subsequent research experience. The ultimate goal is to increase the number of under-represented minority scientists engaged in environmental health and toxicology research.