With the growing population of underrepresented minorities in the United States and the need to train approximately 1 million more students in STEM for the US to remain competitive, research and education training programs in STEM aimed at students from underrepresented groups are needed. To aid in addressing this issue, Texas Tech University (TTU) and South Plains College (SPC) will partner together to develop the Plains Bridges to the Baccalaureate (PBB) program at TTU for underrepresented students (Hispanic Americans, African Americans, and American Indian). The long-term goal of the partnering institutions is to ultimately increase the number of students from underrepresented groups in the biomedical and behavioral sciences. Our objective in this proposal is to implement a multi-faceted program to help underrepresented students from SPC interested in the sciences to explore their interest, ultimately make a smooth and successful transition to TTU, and graduate with a B.S. or B.A. in the biomedical or behavioral sciences. The PBB program will be formally evaluated and assessed to continually improve the program and ensure that program workshops, seminars, and activities are benefiting the PBB participants. Our program will focus on three components: 1) tools to become a successful scientist, 2) tools to succeed in higher education and beyond the baccalaureate, and 3) increasing awareness of the need for diversity in the biomedical and behavioral sciences. Each component will have workshops, seminars, and/or activities to help the PBB participants to achieve success in the respective areas. For example, participants will participate in the Mentor Tech program at TTU which offers several workshops and seminars focused on tools to succeed in college such as time management and study strategies seminars. In addition, fellows will participate in undergraduate research with faculty at TTU which will invoke their curiosity about science and make them more competitive for graduate school. Each cohort of 12 students will be in the PBB program for 1 1/2 years before transferring to TTU to complete a degree in a biomedical related field. After five years of funding, the PBB program will have supported 48 students (four cohorts of 12 students) with three cohorts having transitioned to TTU and potentially all of cohort #1 having received their B.S. degrees. Therefore, the establishment of the PBB program at TTU will result in an increase of the number of underrepresented scientists in the biomedical sciences which is in-line with the missions of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) and the National Center for Minority Health Disparities (NCMHD).

Public Health Relevance

The Plains Bridges to the Baccalaureate Program at Texas Tech University will increase the number of underrepresented students transferring from a community college (South Plains College) to a four year university and earning degrees in the biomedical and behavioral sciences. This program will also help to train future scientists from underrepresented groups to conduct basic biomedical research that is necessary to better understand and improve human health issues.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
Education Projects (R25)
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Special Emphasis Panel (TWD)
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Hamlet, Michelle R
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Texas Tech University
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United States
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Mittal, Amandeep; Gampala, Srinivas S L; Ritchie, Glen L et al. (2014) Related to ABA-Insensitive3(ABI3)/Viviparous1 and AtABI5 transcription factor coexpression in cotton enhances drought stress adaptation. Plant Biotechnol J 12:578-89