Native Americans and Native Alaskans have the lowest university enrollment and graduation rates of any group in the United States and this trend holds true for those interested in STEM fields. In addition, the Native American populations living on tribal land experience a multitude of environmentally associated health issues such as cancer, stroke, obesity and diabetes. Therefore, the NAU RISE program will target environmental issues on tribal land as the focus for our educational program and research experiences. This focus is particularly appropriate because Northern Arizona University faculty are nationally recognized as experts in this field, environmental health is a widely-expressed area of interest for NAU Native American students, the Arizona tribes (and others throughout the country) want the members of their own community to provide this expertise; and, lastly, tribal support is imperative to the success of Native American students. We plan to identify a cohort of 4 undergraduate and 4 Master's Native American students (or from other underrepresented populations) to participate in RISE-specific activities These students will be involved in research experiences over the period of two years on issues addressing environmental health the Navajo Nation, the Hopi reservation and/or the Yavapai Apache Nation. A summer program will be initiated that will emphasize culturally-aligned mentorship, community connections, scientific identify formation and value alignment. During the academic year a special course entitled Success in Research Seminar will be provided for the RISE cohort. This course will continue to incorporate the culturally aligned mentorship and support of the summer and also emphasize training in responsible conduct of research, research design and methods, scientific career choices, the graduate school application process, and surviving graduate school. As the students progress into the second year of support they will master the analysis of research results, reading and interpreting the literature, scientific writing skills and presentation of results at professional conferences. These students will also provide peer-support to the new cohort. All students will be directed to courses offerings in statistics, applied indigenous studies, environmental and/or health sciences and computer science. As a result, the RISE program at NAU will provide educational activities that will enhance the diversity of the biomedical, behavioral and clinical research workforce through enhanced retention and successful graduate student experiences for Native American students.
The purpose of the RISE (Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement) funding is to support and research activities that enhance the diversity of the biomedical, behavioral and clinical research workforce. To this end, Northern Arizona University proposes to increase the number of Native American scientists prepared to enter Ph.D.'s in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields specifically related to environmental health. This program uses the drivers of culturally-relevant support, hands-on research experiences, and a tailored curriculum to increase the number of Native American undergraduates who successfully proceed to a master's degree and master's degree students who progress to the doctoral level.