Spelman College is a private research-active, historically Black liberal arts college that is a leader in the education of women of African descent, particularly in the areas of biomedical and behavioral sciences-related disciplines. Academic excellence is the heart of the College's mission, in that Spelman women are encouraged to think critically and creatively and to refine their communicative, quantitative, and technological skills. As a result, for the last 15 years, Spelman has been ranked second in the country as baccalaureate institution of origin of Black doctorate recipients in STEM disciplines. I is still the case, however, that in the sciences women are still underrepresented at the PhD level and beyond;for minority women, the data are even worse. The Spelman RISE program seeks to address this need by leading the effort to produce the next generation of Black women scientists. The present proposal enhances aspects of our existing RISE program, which has met or exceeded its stated goals, including having at least 80% of its graduates go directly into doctoral programs for the last 3 years.
Aim 1. To increase student awareness of biomedical research and to encourage students to pursue a career in research, our main focus is the Summer Training About Research Techniques (START) program, with an emphasis on entering freshmen - we expect at least 55% of participants to pursue research during the academic year.
Aim 2. To develop empirical research knowledge and skills of students so that they will be prepared for the rigor of the advanced research training of doctoral programs, our main focus is the Academic Year Research Development Program, where RISE Scholars work in research labs with faculty mentors, and a structured sequence of academic preparation modules (Critical Skills for Investigation-CSI) that focus on critical thinking, quantitative skills, research design RCR, reading comprehension, and scientific writing. 100% of RISE Scholars will demonstrate in-depth comprehension of their research design, present their research every year, attend at least 1 professional conference, and experience peer-review of their work. To capture incoming freshmen during the academic year, we are introducing the Pre-Research ExPerience (PREP) lab skills boot camp.
Aim 3. To increase the number of students going directly to Ph.D. research programs, by making them more competitive for admission, we are taking a holistic approach, by enhancing the graduate school admissions portrait, and encouraging the development of "soft skills" to foster success in current and future lab placements. It is required that 100% of seniors take the GRE and apply to graduate school, with the percentage of RISE graduates going directly into doctoral programs at least 50% in Year 1, and at least 75% by Year 3. A yearly retreat with mentors and RISE students will foster better understanding of the many cultures of science institutions and lab interpersonal dynamics. 100% of RISE Scholars will feel that they are more confident in the lab and better prepared for success in graduate school.
HBCU's have a critical role to play in impacting the current underrepresentation of minority women in the biomedical research pipeline. Currently women and minorities are severely underrepresented among the nation's biomedical scientists. As a historically black research active college Spelman College seeks to address this disparity. The current proposal will continue to prepare black women for doctoral programs as they pursue biomedical research careers.
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