The UCSC Diversity Action Plan at the University of California, Santa Cruz originated in 2002 as a sub-award of the UCSC Genome Browser. On the UCSC campus, our DAP is known as the Research Mentoring Internship Program (RMI), a research education program that improves equity and access to careers in genomic science by increasing the participation of underrepresented minority students. The RMI, now managed by the Genomics Institute Office of Diversity, provides mentored research training and financial support for underrepresented minority (URM) students in both undergraduate and graduate (pre-doctoral) educational training, with the goal of preparing and advancing them toward successful careers in genomic science or its ethical, legal, and social implications (ELSI). Students supported by the RMI are assigned to a faculty research mentor with whom they train 10-20 hours per week. Mentor labs may be in any department in the Division of Physical and Biological Sciences or the School of Engineering, provided that the research focuses on genomic sciences (e.g. computational biology, quantitative sciences, bioinformatics and technology development). STEM research environments may be wet labs or computational labs. ELSI projects are usually conducted under the aegis of a faculty member from the Division of Social Sciences, and commonly approach a specific aspect of genomics in one of the following areas: bioethics, policy, health care, social implications. The RMI provides financial support in the form of scholarships for undergraduates and substantial fellowships for graduate students. In addition to research training, the program offers academic and professional development workshops, one-on-one coaching, and career guidance. The program exposes students to the culture and rigors of a research environment under the close supervision of faculty mentoring, thus enhancing preparation for and success in graduate school and beyond. We recruit from regional community colleges and California State Universities that have high percentages of students from low-income and underserved populations. To ensure successful persistence to degree completion, we implement retention strategies based on best practices to create professional support and programming within a cutting-edge research environment that provides our cohort with the knowledge and tools needed to advance to meaningful careers in genomics.
?RELEVANCE TO PUBLIC HEALTH The Research Mentoring Internship Program (RMI) at UC Santa Cruz offers mentored research training, financial support, and professional development to students pursuing careers in genomic science or in the analysis of the ethical, legal, and social implications of that research. The RMI improves equity and access to careers in genomic science by contributing to the number of academically talented and underrepresented minority (URM) students who successfully complete degrees in genomic science. Our efforts are valuable in terms of social justice, and the students who graduate from our programs and enter careers in genomics constitute a valuable contribution to the American workforce, bringing skill, talent, and diverse perspectives to fields of knowledge that promise to dramatically benefit human health.
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