The goal of the proposed STEM BUILD@UMBC initiative is to create a comprehensive, multidimensional model for a public research university to increase the number of students from all backgrounds completing majors in the life and behavioral sciences and entering graduate school and/or the STEM workforce. Through the nationally recognized Meyerhoff Scholars and MARC U*STAR programs, and other initiatives focused on increasing minority participation in STEM, UMBC faculty, staff, and administrators have learned key lessons about the importance of building community among aspiring STEM majors, setting high expectations, and providing students with significant research experiences and academic, financial, and social support. UMBC is nationally recognized as a model of innovation and inclusive excellence, and the campus is the leader among predominantly white Institutions - and 6* among all universities - in the number of African American bachelor's degree recipients who go on to complete STEM Ph.D.s, with two-thirds of those alumni completing Ph.D.s in the life sciences (NSF, 2013). The proposed STEM BUILD Research Enrichment Core will draw on UMBC's history of innovation as we conduct a five-year investigation of the most effective strategies to engage students in STEM coursework and research, and prepare them for careers involving the biomedical and behavioral sciences. Currently, UMBC's successful scholarship programs focus on students who begin their undergraduate studies with strong preparation in STEM. However, large numbers of additional students aspiring to major in these subjects may be at risk of switching to other majors or not graduating. The STEM BUILD@UMBC initiative will work to retain these students in STEM by expanding access to research and internship experiences for students, and continuing work to support the pre-transfer preparedness of students at partner two-year institutions. It will also expand efforts to incorporate applied learning experiences (i.e., traditional internship or one-on-one mentoring) into the academic program through active-earning courses and opportunities to participate in professional development training and workshops (e.g.. Introduction to a Research University), Biomedical Case Study and Responsible Conduct in Research courses, and Affinity Group Research courses. In addition to the comprehensive support requested for 80 BUILD Trainees, UMBC plans summer paid practicums involving novel research and research preparation are planned for up to 90 additional students enrolled at partner institutions over the five-year grant period.
The STEM BUILD@UMBC initiative is based on the premise that large numbers of students from all backgrounds have the capacity to excel in the life sciences and make valuable contributions as members of the country's scientific workforce. Building on existing models for student engagement and success, the initiative will provide important insights into innovative practices to help a broad range of students succeed.