The long term goal of the New Mexico State University RISE to Excellence Program is to diversify the community of health scientists by furthering the completion of Ph.D. degrees by students who are members of groups underrepresented in biomedical and biobehavioral research. NMSU is uniquely positioned to achieve this goal because of the institution's status as a doctoral, research-intensive, land grant, minority (Hispanic) serving university with a diverse student population and a cadre of accomplished mentors. The NMSU RISE program aspires to provide research opportunities for students, especially those who have faced barriers or obstacles in pursuit of a research career, and to aid students in discovering and fulfilling their scientific potential. Three student development activities are proposed. Activity 1, RISE to the Doctorate, will provide individually mentored laboratory research experiences and professional skills development for RISE Undergraduate Scholars. A1 will enable the entry of 50% of the undergraduate participants to a Ph.D. program, and another 25% to postbaccalaureate or MS programs. Activity 2, RISE to the Postdoctorate, will provide individually mentored laboratory research experiences and professional skills development for RISE Graduate Scholars who are matriculated into Ph.D. programs. A2 will facilitate the completion of a Ph.D. by 90% of the predoctoral Scholars and their subsequent entry to postdoctoral research positions. Activity 3, RISE Team Discovery Workshops, will provide three inquiry-based team research experiences during the summer for undergraduate and graduate students: Medicinal Plants of the Southwest, will recruit non-majors to biomedical research;Genomics Discovery, will retain science students in research who are near graduation and have not had a mentored laboratory experience;Health Disparities, will motivate and inspire RISE students by emphasizing the relevance of research for the well-being of their communities. Students in the NMSU RISE Program are prepared for the next step of their career through laboratory experiences, seminars, professional skills workshops, and courses in research dynamics and experimental design. Students also receive formal education in responsible conduct in research that is reinforced by a seminar series. Special emphasis is placed on the development of strong written and oral communication skills, on the preparation of an electronic professional portfolio that is reviewed yearly by a faculty committee, and on submission of fellowship and internship applications by all students, as appropriate for their career stage. Assessment and evaluation of program activities are integrated into the design and continual refinement of programmatic elements. A distinguishing feature of the NMSU RISE program is the commitment of RISE mentors to work collaboratively to identify mentoring practices that promote recruitment and retention of underrepresented minority students to the Ph.D.. A yearly Leadership Retreat will provide a forum for students and mentors to discuss issues of identity, community, and the role of scientists, especially those from underrepresented groups, as biomedical researchers and leaders in a challenging global environment.
Fostering excellence in a diverse research workforce can lead to more innovative solutions to challenging biomedical problems. Increasing the numbers of highly trained Ph.D. recipients from traditionally underrepresented groups ensures that the scientific community has the broadest capacity and most robust potential to find treatments for diseases and disorders that impair the quality of human life, such as those that are associated with health disparities between populations.
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