The primary goal of the RISE Scholars Program at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) is to increase the participation and retention of underrepresented minority students (URM) in biomedical research. The UTEP RISE Program is comprised of three distinct populations of trainees: (1) students that are in their beginning years of college, (2) students that participate in research projects as juniors and seniors, and (3) graduate students working toward a Ph.D. degree.
The specific aims of this program are the following: (1) to provide increased access to educational and research biomedical training activities for URM students;(2) to increase the number of URM undergraduates who choose to pursue careers in biomedical fields;and (3) to increase the representation of URM graduate students in the Biology Ph.D. program to a level equivalent to our URM undergraduate population. At the undergraduate level, the RISE program has met or exceeded most of the originally proposed objectives in the areas of student retention, semester credits attained and improvements in overall GPA. In particular, this program has achieved a high level of success (77%) in the placement of undergraduate trainees in graduate programs. While the graduate training component was implemented this past year, six URM trainees have already been admitted into the Biology Ph.D. program. The RISE graduate component will significantly enhance our existing graduate program by increasing the number of minority trainees, by adding valuable training workshops for all graduate students, and by lowering the years to degree. In addition, the RISE graduate trainees will receive enhanced mentorship and guidance from the PD and the RISE advisor who will counsel them at important junctures and checkpoints during their graduate careers. The planned activities are expected to reduce the time-to-degree and thus increase the output of minority graduates from our program. The goals and objectives that have been proposed in this renewal application should allow us to continue to generate a highly talented pool of trainees with a genuine interest in pursuing academic biomedical research careers.
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