The Preparing Future Faculty Program will be developed by Universidad Central del Caribe (UCC) to train Ph.D. candidates in biomedical research and in educational methodology, to prepare them for future careers as academic scientists and educators. Recruitment of trainees will be easily accomplished, since nearly all students at UCC are members of groups underrepresented in the sciences (Hispanic and economically disadvantaged).
Specific Aim 1 will be to admit, retain and graduate outstanding candidates for the Ph.D., with at least 90% of supported students completing the Ph.D. and 50% progressing in the future to faculty positions in Puerto Rico (PR). The program will include outreach activities in PR, including visits to colleges, an undergraduate summer academy, and an Annual Scientific Research Symposium.
Specific Aim 2 will be to enhance the skills and attitudes of students needed for careers in biomedical science research and education, to achieve retention and graduation of trainees with the Ph.D. This will be done through an innovative core curriculum, which includes training in pedagogy, critical thinking, scientific methodology, and scientific writing, to develop both expertise and dual identity as scientists and educators. A suite of support mechanisms will promote student development, including near-peer advisement, cognitive and soft skills training, professional development and mentorship (including mentorship and career development workshops for faculty and students), student tutoring, student-hosted visiting scientist seminars, a student seminar program for RISE trainees, the Annual Scientific Research Symposium, and a confidential and free counseling program. Partnership with the Clinical &Translational Science Center at University of California-Davis will enhance this program, by providing expertise in career development, mentorship training and distance learning tools to faculty and students at UCC, and by providing opportunities for postdoctoral training for RISE graduates. Trainees will also be trained in Responsible Conduct of Research, and will gain administrative skills by managing small institutional mini-grants and by service on Radiation Safety, Laboratory Safety, Institutional Animal Care and Utilization Committees and on the Institutional Review Board. Evaluation will be led by an external evaluator, who will attend annual External Advisory Board meetings and who will develop new instruments for a mixed method approach combining qualitative and quantitative analysis of outcomes. Dissemination of results will be performed on the program website, and by presentations at local and national meetings, as well as reports to program directors of NIH-funded RISE, PREP, Bridge, IMSD and IRACDA programs and in publications in educational journals. Since most students from PR plan future careers in the island, it is anticipated that this program will have great future impact on undergraduate research training in PR, due to RISE graduates who become faculty at Puerto Rican colleges and universities.
The Preparing Future Faculty Program at Universidad Central del Caribe will prepare Ph.D. trainees, most of whom are Hispanic and economically disadvantaged, for careers as faculty members who are both researchers and educators. This will increase diversity in the biomedical science workforce, both by preparing RISE trainees for future faculty positions and by improving their ability to develop future generations of students for careers in the sciences.