This award will allow the University of Missouri to organize a workshop in May 2011 that focuses on increasing the effectiveness of undergraduate student training that will prepare students for a career in science, particularly those from underrepresented groups. The workshop will allow Principal Investigators (PIs) involved in the NSF-funded Undergraduate Research and Mentoring in Biological Sciences (URM) program to discuss important issues associated with undergraduate student training. The main goals of the workshop are (1) to share ideas for improving individual program implementation including ethics training, methods for student recruitment and retention, student development activities, preparation for graduate study, and mentor training; and (2) to discuss and identify best practices for assessing program success. These goals will be accomplished through presentations and panel discussions by experts and through opportunities for group discussion and networking among site directors. A final report will be submitted to NSF summarizing the workshop findings, which will also be disseminated to workshop participants. At the end of this project, it is expected that PIs of the URM program will be better equipped with knowledge on successful implementation of their program and best practices. This will have a direct impact on the quality of training that students will receive and a better way for PIs to measure program success.

Project Report

P { margin-bottom: 0.08in; } The 2011 Principal Investigators' Workshop for the Undergraduate Research and Mentoring in the Biological Sciences (URM) program was held June 1 to June 3, 2011 in Arlington, VA. The workshop brought together the principal investigator community to discuss best practices that have been developed by URM projects in assessment and evaluation, recruitment and retention, training in ethical conduct of research, and mentoring undergraduate students for graduate study and careers in the biological sciences. The participants identified the following best practices in recruitment of students who are underrepresented in the biological sciences, mentoring, undergraduate research, and preparation for graduate study: Student pool: students from groups underrepresented in the biological sciences and high risk students who are not likely to complete a PhD. Younger students who start their research as freshman and sophomores Mentoring model: long-term, intensive mentoring, multiple mentors, peer and near-peer mentors Research projects: one year and longer with an emphasis on the entire research process from proposal writing to manuscript submission and presentations at national meetings Emphasis on student development: leadership skills, outreach skills, community involvement are emphasized Family mentoring model: projects often engage students' families; some students develop a lab family; many students view their URM cohort as a family Preparation for graduate school: URM projects mentor through entire research process and continues through graduation The workshop participants identified several ways that these best practices change the culture of institutions hosting URM projects: Graduate students and post-doctoral researchers: gain experience in mentoring and experience in working with diverse groups of undergraduate students Non-URM Faculty gain an increased awareness of the value of undergraduate research and training Non-URM Faculty gain a new perspective on how students from groups that are underrepresented in the biological sciences and of students that they perceive has at high risk for obtaining a graduate degree can be successful in completing research projects and enrolling in graduate programs Non-URM Faculty gain an increased awareness of approaches to mentoring students and engaging them in research P { margin-bottom: 0.08in; }

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Biological Infrastructure (DBI)
Standard Grant (Standard)
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Program Officer
Sally E. O'Connor
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University of Missouri-Columbia
United States
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