The results of our RISE first cycle showed that we are achieving our goals with 100% of students accepted in Graduate Programs (4/6 in Ph.D. and 2/6 in Master Degrees) including research intensive institutions. The outcomes for the first UPR-PRISE cohort seem extremely promising as they will graduate on June 2016. This cohort participated in all the activities conceived in the original project. The current 22 UPR-PRISE students are extremely engaged and determined to enter into a Ph.D. Program in Biomedical Sciences when they graduate from University of Puerto Rico in Ponce. During the first cycle we were able to successfully promote awareness about Research as a career choice in high school students and undergraduates. This new cycle includes new academic developmental activities and expansion and enhancement of existing activities. The proposed UPR-PRISE Program strategies include: student support for core courses, development of cognitive and technical skills that will prepare the students for successful transition to, and completion of, Graduate School; strategies for overcoming the English language barrier, active learning activities, community-based service learning activities, training in research ethics, and career counseling. We expect that with a successful implementation of the UPR-PRISE Program during a new cycle, we will be able to follow up on the current impacted students and extend these opportunities to other students enrolled in the Biology Department. The UPR-PRISE Program objectives are the following: 1) Increase the graduation rate in the Department of Biology of the University of Puerto Rico in Ponce (UPRP) in order to increase the pool of students with qualifications to pursue and complete a Ph.D. and continue biomedical research careers and 2) Increase the number of UPRP students accepted to Graduate School to pursue a Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences. This project is oriented toward the quality and success of the activities achieved by the students under the UPR-Ponce tangible and realistic scenario using evidence-based data from our previous cycle.
The research training included in this proposal, will serve to build up a pipeline of well-mind students oriented to biomedical research. The students' trainings will be provided by well-trained, qualified educators/scientists in appropriate facilitie that will contribute for success in achieving a BS and further pursuing a Ph.D. in Biomedical. The specific aims directed to student development include promoting summer internships in research-intensive institutions, creation of a standardized verbal test course to improve scores, conversational English, responsible conduct, and community based learning. These activities also provide student support for promoting students' interest in biomedical research topics and increase retention. The UPR-PRISE project will improve research experiences required to initiate and promote interest in UPRP students towards competitive research. In addition, the organization and integration of the administrative component along with training of students, will assure the success of the program for increasing retention, graduation, and interest in graduate school.
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