Building on the experience of successful undergraduate research programs throughout the country including the evaluation of our own five-year undergraduate research program the University of South Florida we will implement an intensive Summer Research Institute (SRI) for Undergraduates and High School students. The SRI will facilitate the pursuit of undergraduates and high school students to attain advanced education in mental health research in order to enhance the future pool of successful researchers working in this area and submitting research proposals to NIMH and NIH. The SRI will be based on the principle that the best way for students to learn about research is to be actively engaged in doing mental health research. Students will spend approximately 80% of their time in research and 20% in research seminars and related activities. The undergraduate program will consist of four components: intensive research experience, research seminars, professional development seminars, and skill building workshops. The high school program will complement and expand on an existing Upward Bound summer program and will begin with an intensive three-day research workshop followed by a set of structured activities that will be integrated with the undergraduate SRI. Specific objectives of the SRI include: 1) Increasing student knowledge of mental health research, research processes, research ethics, and the responsible conduct of research by providing a ten-week interdisciplinary summer program for 60 undergraduate students (five cohorts of 12 students each);2) Increasing student proficiency in research by immersing them in research laboratory experience and guiding their work on an independent project conducted in collaboration with a faculty mentor;3) Increasing the number of undergraduate students who enroll in graduate school and pursue research careers in mental health, particularly populations that are under-represented in the behavioral sciences;4) Increasing awareness, knowledge, and skills of mental health research among 60 high school students (5 cohorts of 12 students each) by providing a summer research experience that is integrated with the undergraduate research program and complements their academic experiences in Upward Bound;and 5) Increasing the number of high school students who enroll in college with a stated goal of pursuing research in mental health as an undergraduate, who know how to seek out and apply for undergraduate research opportunities, and who have the skills to position themselves for acceptance to competitive undergraduate research programs.
The Summer Research Institute at FMHI (SRI@FMHI) will enhance the research knowledge, skills, and experience of undergraduate participants and will prepare them for graduate school and careers as research scientists in mental health, and will simultaneously expose high school students to research in mental health with the aim of attracting them to careers in science. The public health significance of this program is that graduates will be prepared to pursue educational pathways leading them to careers in mental health research thus enhancing the future pool of successful researchers submitting proposals to NIMH and NIH. The SRI will be based on the principle that the best way for students to learn about research is to be actively engaged in and mentored while doing mental health research because reasoning, critical thinking, and research skills improve more when students actively participate in research than when they engage in the passive instruction that characterizes most statistics and research methods courses.
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