Savannah State University (SSU), an HBCU with 94% African-American enrollment, submits this proposed MBRS-RISE Option I program application to increase the number of underrepresented minority students enrolling in Ph.D. degrees in biomedical and behavioral science. Our current funded programs over the past 8 years have engaged more than 200 STEM students in mentored research and increased the STEM enrollment, retention, and graduation rates. Lacking, however, has been corresponding increases in SSU STEM students completing Ph.D. programs. Over the past 13 years, only 29 SSU BS graduates (27 URMs) have entered biomedical/behavioral science Ph.D. programs (~2/year). In addition, as with many similar institutions, we have significant challenges with key gatekeeper courses including biology and chemistry, resulting in lower than desired rates of retention and matriculation within STEM majors. The goal of this MBRS-RISE proposal is to build on the institutional momentum created by these previous programs, enhancing them with focused, interrelated initiatives that will improve student outcomes in courses that lay the foundation for further study in biology, chemistry, marine science and behavioral analysis at SSU and future success in graduate school;stimulate the scientific imagination of minority students and their interest in research careers;and develop the mentoring, research, and teaching skills of SSU faculty. The five-year program will have broad institutional impact, through curriculum enhancements and workshops;it will have targeted impact on 27 research interns from the biology, chemistry, marine science, and behavioral analysis undergraduate programs who will be recruited, mentored and groomed to enter Ph.D. programs after graduation and succeed in their pursuit of research careers.
Three specific aims and associated measurable objectives are proposed:
Specific Aim #1 (Broad Impact): By year 5, achieve an increase in the number of graduates in RISE relevant undergraduate programs by 35% over the baseline level of 65 BS graduates (average number for the last 4 years), in order to increase the pool of SSU majors who are prepared for graduate biomedical/behavioral science programs. Activities include curriculum enhancements to Freshman Year Experience Classes and to Biology, Chemistry, and Behavior Analysis Fundamental Courses (benefiting over 400 students/year);and ongoing K-12 recruitment leveraged with other programs.
Specific Aim #2 (Targeted Impact): Produce 10 SSU graduates who apply for and enter biomedical/behavioral science Ph.D. programs, through a high-quality and productive undergraduate research training program. These 10 new Ph.D. candidates will be produced by supporting 27 interns over 5 years (15 each year with 3 replacements each year due to graduation). Activities will include a comprehensive, progressively challenging and rigorous mentored research training program;ongoing tutoring, mentoring, academic advisement, and professional development to nurture the students'motivation to persist and feeling of connectedness to the academic community;and guidance of each intern through the graduate school application process.
Savannah State University (SSU), an HBCU with 94% African-American enrollment, submits this proposed MBRS-RISE Option I program application to increase the number of well qualified underrepresented minority students enrolling in Ph.D. degrees in biomedical and behavioral science. Minority students are significantly underrepresented in biomedical/behavioral doctoral programs and degrees attained. This SSU program will support the NIH's mission to improve the public health, specifically by increasing the production of well-trained minority biomedical/behavioral research scientists who can contribute to the scientific knowledge.
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