An award has been made to the University of Connecticut that will provide research training for 10 weeks for 10 students, during the summers of 2010-1012. The Department of Physiology and Neurobiology (PNB) will offer research opportunities to undergraduate sophomores and juniors from non-Ph.D. granting institutions. The students will participate in graduate level research projects on physiological and neural systems in animals. The goal is expose students to a career in scientific research, and to increase student applications to graduate programs in basic science. Students are selected on the basis of their academic record, personal and professional goals described in a required essay, and letters of recommendation. Students are housed together, and work with faculty mentors on their own research project. Professional development activities and social events are planned. Seminars introduce students to topics such as safe practices in the laboratories, ethical issues in science, how to apply to graduate school, and how to present research results effectively. An end-of-session symposium features student platform and poster presentations. The program is assessed using interviews, observation, and surveys, including the web-based assessment tool common to the REU Sites program. More information is available at www.pnb.uconn.edu/~wwwpnb/PNB_Base/about/reu/index.html, or by contacting Dr. Larry Renfro at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The major objective was to provide undergraduates from diverse and primarily non-Ph.D. granting institutions an opportunity to immerse themselves in the collegial atmosphere of stimulating research laboratories and to promote in each an interest in a career in the sciences. Over the past six summers we brought a total of 59 students through the program. We had a total of 658 applications, 68% female, 10% black, 10% Hispanic, 1% Native American. Of the 59 participants, 66% were femaile, 25% black, 19% Hispanic and 5% Native American. Those with disability were 3% and military veterans were 5%. Overall, 54% of participants were either underrepresented minority, veterans, or students with a disability. Students conducted research under the supervision of mentors, interacting with graduate students and postdocs, participating in lab meetings and experienced life in the laboratory. They overwhelmingly reported that the REU gave them the understanding they needed to assess whether life in the research lab is for them. All mentors reported that their students made progress toward independence in the lab, with a majority reporting that their students were able to work with complete independence on their projects by the end of the program. Among the seminars and workshops conducted were Safety and Animal Care training, Ethics Workshops (included Responsible Conduct of Research), Diversity in the Sciences Workshop, Departmental Seminars on the graduate school application process and giving an effective poster presentation. Attending lab meetings proved very educational for students. The final Poster Symposium was the culminating event. Earlier in each summer program, students attended a poster workshop led by faculty or graduate students and were given a PowerPoint template for planning their posters. Each symposium featured refreshments and rotating sessions at which each student stood by their poster and gave presentations to student and faculty colleagues. Students brought their posters home and in many cases, presented them at subsequent meetings. During post-program interviews, the majority of students from Summer 2012 reported an increased or confirmed interest in applying to graduate school, but since they are still undergraduates actual outcomes are not available. We have been able to obtain updates on 45 of the 47 (note: two participated twice) students who completed the program from 2007-2011, with the following results to report: 39/45 total (87%) graduated; 25/39 (64%) matriculated in (or graduated from) graduate or professional school; 11/39 (28%) in PhD programs in NSF-related fields; of the 14 remaining graduates 8 report plans to apply to graduate school following a period of work, mostly in research related positions. Many current PhD students spontaneously cited this program as instrumental in their decision to attend and success in graduate school. Overall, the goals of our program were met.