The goal of this R25 is to increase the number of Hispanic Ph.D.s trained in the neurosciences: specifically to facilitate entry of students into Ph.D. program in Neuroscience at MSU and enhance their likeliness of their success in the program. Central to this is the need to 1) identify talented students with potential for Ph.D. studies in Neuroscience;2) introduce them to career opportunities in neuroscience;3) provide research training and individual mentoring 4) increase their competitiveness for graduate study, particularly in "all- English" environments;5) assist in preparation for admission into the Ph.D. program in Neuroscience;and 6) then provide additional enrichment opportunities and practice in scientific writing during the first two years of study in the Ph.D. program. To do this, a "bridge program" is proposed encompassing the senior undergraduate year and 1st two years of the Ph.D. program. It entails a partnership between MSU and the University of Puerto Rico-Cayey (UPR-C) - a major undergraduate campus in the mountainous central region of Puerto Rico. This partnership builds on the 12 year successful relationship between neuroscience researchers at MSU and the NIGMS-funded RISE program at UPR-C. The proposed program will provide annual support for 4 Ph.D. students in Neuroscience and 4 undergraduates. Undergraduate students participate in the Ronald McNair Summer Research Program at MSU, which offers a number of experiences that prepare students to enter and succeed at the graduate level. These include preparation for the GRE, writing practice and preparation for graduate admission applications. After spending 2 summers at MSU;the students will enroll "on-campus" for the fall semester of the senior undergraduate year. They will take 9 credits of undergraduate courses in the neuroscience area, complete the research project begun during the prior summer, and make application to grad school. Two students who satisfactorily complete the undergraduate component will be offered admission into the MSU Neuroscience Ph.D. Program. Other students will be helped to obtain placement either in other MSU departments or at other Ph.D. granting programs. Additional work on science writing skills and enrichment activities are planned during the first two years of graduate program to ensure their successful progression through this critical juncture of graduate school.
Increasing the number of Hispanic Ph.D.s trained in the neurosciences will increase diversity in the biomedical workforce. Hispanic students face several challenges in gaining acceptance to, and subsequently succeeding in Ph.D. programs due to difficulties with English, lack of awareness of prospective Ph.D. research careers and poor mentoring during the 1st 2 years of grad school. This program will address these issues by an innovative bridge program to facilitate entry of and success of Hispanic students in the Ph.D. Neuroscience Program at MSU.
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