The Spelman RISE program seeks to address the underrepresentation of women, and minority women in particular, in the sciences at the PhD level and beyond by leading the effort to produce the next generation of Black women scientists. The present proposal enhances aspects of our existing RISE program, which has 100% graduation rate and 100% of its graduates pursuing advanced degrees or working in STEM fields.
Aim 1. To increase students? persistence in STEM fields, promote awareness of scientific research and encourage students to pursue a career in research. Our new Freshman Introduction to Research and Skills Training (FIRST) program is designed to engage first-year students in the wonder of scientific discovery. Incoming freshman will work in an active research lab and attend weekly modules to develop college transition skills, receive introductory course support, develop their critical thinking, and learn what it takes to work well in a scientific lab. The summer after their freshman year they will be working for 8 weeks in an active research lab. We expect the FIRST student experience to improve participants? transition to college and persistence in STEM, with 80% of RISE students earning their degree within 4 years. For all of our students, during the academic year, we will continue our RISE Science Seminar Series and we expect 100% attendance by RISE Scholars, who will report a gain in scientific understanding.
Aim 2. To develop empirical research knowledge and skills of students so that they will be prepared for the rigor of the advanced research training of doctoral programs. Activities include the Academic Year Research Development program, where students are paid members of active research labs, our Critical Skills for Investigation-(CSI) modules that focus on critical thinking, quantitative skills, research design, RCR, reading comprehension, and an emphasis on scientific writing and statistical analysis. 100% of RISE Scholars will demonstrate in-depth comprehension of their research design, present their research every year, attend at least one professional conference and experience peer-review of their work.
Aim 3. To increase the number of students entering doctoral programs, by making them more competitive for admission, and improving the percentage of those students who earn a PhD. We take a holistic approach by developing the soft skills that will promote success in current and future lab placements. We focus on developing community and teamwork by matching each FIRST student with her peer mentoring team of 2-3 upper level RISE Scholars. Students will develop an IDP, with input from the PD, faculty advisor and research mentor. We will also work with seniors to select and apply to doctoral programs. We expect that the percentage of RISE graduates going directly to graduate school will be at least 90%, with 85% of those students completing the PhD.
Currently women and people of African descent are severely underrepresented among the nation?s biomedical and behavioral scientists. As a historically black research active college (aka HBCU), Spelman College seeks to address this disparity. The current proposal will continue to prepare Black women for acceptance into STEM doctoral programs as they pursue biomedical research careers, thereby increasing the diversity in science.
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