Diversity at the molecular level has created the diversity of all life forms ever to exist on this planet. Recent studies by Scott E. Page (Univ. Michigan) suggest increased diversity of thought, perspective and background among individuals working as part of a team enhances performance. Thus, the pursuit of knowledge and scientific excellence demands the inclusion of students from all backgrounds. This application requests support for a proposed 'Initiative for Maximizing Student Diversity' (IMSD) program within the Division of Biological and Biomedical Sciences (DBBS) at Washington University. The mission of the program is to increase the matriculation, training, retention, and graduation of outstanding PhD students from groups historically under-represented in the sciences. Specifically, in Aim 1, we seek to increase the number of students from under-represented backgrounds that matriculate to DBBS, as well as other universities, through the optimization and expansion of programs that expose undergraduate and high school students to lab-based science.
In Aim 2, we seek to optimize the retention and training of IMSD students through a battery of educational activities purposefully designed to synergize with our students' thesis research. These activities include Summer Pre-matriculation and Pre-Orientation programs, a Great Papers Journal Club, as well as a Scientific Presentation Practice Club and Grant writing workshops.
In Aim 3, we seek to develop activities that expose IMSD students to different career options and postdoctoral opportunities, as well as to potential postdoctoral mentors. We will draw IMSD students from all 12 PhD programs in DBBS and support them for their first two years. These students will be fully integrated within their individual graduate programs and, in addition, participate in the detailed IMSD educational initiatives. In order to maximize the impact of our IMSD program, we seek to select 'at-risk' students for the program - students that have demonstrated a talent for and determination in the pursuit of research-based science, but that also display deficiencies in their academic record. The educational components of the IMSD program are designed to enhance student training, increase productivity, and decrease time to degree, and are open to all students. Thus, we expect students from all programs to gravitate towards these educational initiatives, and our IMSD program to serve as a mechanism to enhance the training of and interaction among students in all of our graduate programs. In the long-term, we expect the IMSD program to facilitate the self-assembly of productive, diverse teams of scientists; the exact type of research teams required to attack and solve the key outstanding questions in the biological and biomedical sciences and to continue and enhance the tradition of scientific excellence in the United States.
Scientific breakthroughs in the understanding of the inner workings of the natural world drive advancements in clinical practice and patient care. These breakthroughs demand researchers probe key unanswered questions from all angles, with recent studies suggesting that a team's productivity directly correlates with the diversity of its members. In this context, our program seeks to increase the matriculation, retention, training, and graduation of outstanding scientists from groups historically under-represented in the sciences in order to ensure the continued tradition scientific excellence in the United States.
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