Columbia University's Summer Program for Underrepresented Students (SPURS) program provides an intense undergraduate research experience on the campus of Columbia's College of Physicians &Surgeons for talented students from backgrounds that are traditionally under- represented in the biology and chemistry fields. SPURS participants are accepted primarily from the City University of New York (CUNY) senior colleges, including Hunter, Brooklyn, Queens, and City Colleges. SPURS provides meaningful training in biomedical research, and enhances the likelihood that the students will achieve a career in science by pursuing an advanced degree (Ph.D.). To expand opportunities for minority undergraduate students to participate in high quality, focused and sustained research experiences in the neurosciences, Dr. Steven Siegelbaum (P.I.), Chair of the Department of Neuroscience at P&S, has joined forces with Dr. Andrew Marks, founder of Columbia University's SPURS program. Students selected for support through NIH's Summer Research Experience Programs solicitation (PAR-11-050, CFDA 93.853) will perform hands-on research for ten summer weeks under the mentorship of NINDS-supported Columbia University neuroscientists (currently 86 Columbia University faculty receive NINDS support). In addition to specific training in neuroscience, the students will receive in-depth training in research methodology including: (a) the design and analysis of experiments;(b) critical reading of the scientific literature through journal clubs and discussions of ethics in science;(c) the presentation of scientific results at laboratory meetings;(d) presentation of their research at poster sessions;(e) an oral presentation of their research to an audience of scientists;and (f) career counseling.
The SPURS program addresses the lack of diversity in biological research which is rooted in the limited number of students entering the field of science which ultimately affects the goals and directions of research. Underserved communities suffer from a lack of representation at the decision-making level, in terms of policy issues and the determination of priorities for conducting research. Institutions require a diverse work force to deal well with the diverse and interconnected world and they need to draw from a sizeable and varied talent pool rather than a single segment of the population