We propose a two-phased Bridges to Biomedical Research Careers (BBRC) program to enhance retention, and matriculation into PhD and MD/PhD programs, of underrepresented (UR) and disadvantaged students interested in pursuing careers in biomedical research. Nationwide, and at UC Santa Barbara, the greatest loss of UR students from STEM fields occurs during the first two years. Consequently, the first phase of the BBRC program will begin with a two-week summer bridge program and continued academic year support for 28 incoming freshmen each year of this five-year program that includes: tutoring in calculus, chemistry and physics; a mentoring network of peers, graduate students and faculty; and an introduction to research course called the Practice of Science. This will synergize with an HHMI-supported program emphasizing active learning courses and peer-to-peer learning communities. As they build community, and become aware of how their major fits into various research and career opportunities, students will be prepared to further develop as researchers through the next phase of the BBRC: the two-year MARC scholars program. Five top students will be selected as MARC scholars for each year of this program. In addition to acquiring extensive research experience, they will grow their leadership skills through various professional opportunities such as presenting at conferences, serving as mentors for lower division students, and developing a team-based community service project in the service-learning course Science for the Common Good. Although only five students from each cohort will receive MARC Scholarships, the other students in each group will be well-prepared to apply for other synergistic research internship programs available at our campus including UCLEADS and CAMP. Through the MARC U*STAR program our long-term goals are to: a) Enhance an institutional culture where students are immersed into a cohesive social, academic and research community which nurtures their success; b) Cultivate students' confidence and skills that enable them to matriculate into and succeed in PhD or MD/PhD programs; c) Enable students to see how their studies are related to their broader interests and career goals, thereby providing motivation for their continued efforts; and d) Seed a lasting shift in the institutional culture to create a more inclusive environment for our entire campus community. UCSB is on track to become the first in the Association of American Universities (AAU) to reach Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) status, putting UCSB on a short list of prominent research-intensive institutions serving a large number of Hispanic undergraduates. As such, we will have many eligible applicants to PhD and MD/PhD programs and success of this program will serve as a model for other similar R-1 institutions.
The proposed program, UCSB Bridges to Biomedical Research Careers, will benefit public health by supporting the education and career development of a diverse group of undergraduate students who will pursue careers in biomedical fields that target improvements in human health. All program participants (undergraduate students, faculty, graduate student and postdoctoral scholar mentors, and university personnel) will be better prepared to either secure careers in the biomedical workforce and be leaders in such fields, or prepare our future workforce leaders.
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