Salish Kootenai College (SKC) is a tribal college located on the Flathead Indian Reservation in western Montana. SKC currently offers thirteen Bachelor's degree programs, eleven Associate's degree programs, and seven Certificate of Completion programs. Typically, the student body size averages approximately 900 - 1000 students and 50 - 100 Tribes are represented in any given academic year. This proposal is a renewal of an NIGMS RISE first awarded to SKC in 2006 (SKC RISE I) and renewed in 2010 (SKC RISE II). It has been designed to significantly impact the numbers of Native American students entering into biomedical science PhD programs. The major accomplishment resulting from the last RISE (SKC RISE II), as well as a now expired NSF- TCUP award was the establishment and accreditation of the SKC BS (Life Sciences) degree. This is the first bioscience-based Bachelor's degree to be offered at a tribal college and its continued support is critical to increasing numbers of Native students entering biomedical science PhD programs at mainstream institutions. This is, therefore, the overarching goal of this new RISE renewal. Associated with this program under SKC RISE II has been the development of an extensive partnership network for placing students in outside, research-intensive summer internships, an elevation in the quality of the student undergraduate research being performed at SKC, as recognized by several awards at national science meetings, and a continuation of the Native American scientist seminar series. SKC graduated its first student from this program in 2012 and enrollment over its short, 2-year life has been increasing. This new BS (Life Sciences) degree utilizes a student success logic model based on education research findings. This model includes strong academic and social integration activities, both of which have been shown to be important in underrepresented minorities succeeding in the sciences. In addition to these two components, two new additional components have been developed and proposed as refinements of this proven model. These are "professionalization" activities and "cultural validation". Retained in the model is: continued expansion of inquiry-based coursework using recognized educational best practices, comprehensive research lab experience with intensive one-on-one student mentoring, development of critical thinking, presentation skills and participation in national science meetings, all within the cultural framework of a tribal college tat promotes program retention. Included in this improved model is the proposed development of more "place-based" curriculum content, and more ways of linking curriculum to "traditional ways of knowing", both of which are important components to Native students'recruitment and retention, and best delivered from a tribal college perspective. Working in concert with this RISE III proposal are other, synergistic SKC programs, such as a new NSF-STEEP-funded BS (Secondary Education) to train Native high school science teachers and two pending NSF TCUP proposals - one for Secondary Math teachers and one proposal to train students in state-of-the-art techniques, (GC-MS), for the analysis of environmental contaminants such as PCBs. This proposal also includes a comprehensive evaluation plan to track the success of the program, as well as a very qualified and committed External Advisory Committee to provide program oversight and guidance.
This project seeks funds to support a new BS (Life Sciences) degree program at Salish Kootenai College (SKC), a tribal college on the Flathead Reservation in Montana. Support of this project will increase the numbers of Native Americans entering into and completing biomedical PhD programs. This will provide a pipeline for trained professionals culturally competent to address issues of health (diabetes, heart disease, obesity) among underserved, Native populations.