The long-term goal of this RISE Option II application is to significantly increase the number of BS and BA graduates from life, physical and social behavioral sciences departments at Morgan State University (MSU), who will obtain a Ph.D. degree in a relevant field and commit to a research career in biomedical sciences. Over the past decade, the RISE program at MSU has successfully prepared cohorts of selected undergraduate trainees, by means of intensive research training and supplemental activities, for entry into graduate school. Our activities have transitioned an average 50% of our RISE trainees into Ph.D. programs over the current funding period. This proposal will continue our successful strategies, but in addition pursue innovative approaches to increase the impact of the RISE Program on the overall numbers of graduates from relevant disciplines at MSU. Based on our analysis, we must fundamentally improve the academic preparedness of all our students, as well as enhance their abilities to become life long critical thinkers so as to improve graduate school preparedness and significantly increase completion of the Ph.D. degree by our graduates. The current proposal pursues the following Specific Aims: (1) Redesign foundation and cornerstone Biology Classes (Introductory Biology and Cell/Molecular Biology) for science majors with focus on inquiry-based learning and development of critical thinking skills, in line with current, published evidence for effective teaching/training methods. (2) Redesign CHEM 203/204 and PHYS203/204 courses, with focus on inquiry-based learning and development of critical thinking skills, to improve student performance in these critical gatekeeper courses for most science majors at MSU; (3) Pioneer the development of a new multi-disciplinary, interdepartmental and inquiry- based Neuroscience course to help students connect concepts between the behavioral, physical and life sciences; (4.a) Maintain all currently effective MBRS RISE Program activities. (4.b) Enhance mental preparedness and resilience of our students via augmented soft skill development in form of collaborative learning supplemental professional training activities.
Morgan State University is the designated Urban University of Maryland with a student population greater than 90% African American, and composed largely of first-generation college students. Thus, our students are underrepresented in biomedical research by both ethnicity and socio-economic background. This proposal will continue our successful strategy to provide hands-on research training and proven supplemental activities to prepare a group of highly promising undergraduate students for Ph.D. programs. In addition, we propose a series of innovative strategies to improve our curriculum and therewith strengthen the preparedness of all our graduates, in relevant scientific departments, to enter post-graduate biomedical training. Our long-term goal is to contribute researchers that possess the ability to address some of the critical health disparities in our nation.
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