The intellectual merit of this three year REU Site program at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) will be the generation of new bioengineering knowledge and devices through undergraduate research experiences. This program will give REU participants access to state-of-the-art facilities, the opportunity to work with accomplished faculty mentors, and to participate in highly collaborative, cutting-edge research projects. In addition to the training participants receive in the individual laboratories, extensive professional development opportunities will be provided through weekly research skills workshops, an undergraduate research conference, a REU journal club, and GRE preparation courses. All REU participants will also be given the opportunity to present their research at the annual meeting of the Biomedical Engineering Society.
The broader impact of the work will be several-fold. There will be direct development of human resources in science and engineering through the education of a diverse population of undergraduate students. Recruitment efforts will be nationwide and will leverage past success recruiting students from non-Ph.D. granting institutions where research opportunities are limited. Participants will also be recruited from California community colleges with the goal of hosting two community college students each year. By working together on recruitment efforts, this program will establish a new educational partnership between UCSD Bioengineering and MiraCosta Community College. REU projects will be a component of larger, collaborative projects. As such, REU participants will work closely with graduate students or postdoctoral researchers. These researchers will participate in a mentoring workshop to help improve their mentoring skills. Together with the planned community building activities, this will make the REU program a positive and memorable experience, encouraging REU participants to pursue further training. There will also be future benefit to countless others whom the graduate student and postdoctoral mentors train throughout their careers.
This award funded the continuation of a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Site in Regenerative Medicine, Multi-Scale Bioengineering, and Systems Biology at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). The Site was originally established in 2008. The overall aim of the REU Site was to train a diverse population of students who may otherwise not have the opportunity to participate in research and for whom the experience may be transformative in terms of career development. During the most recent funding period (2011-2013), the REU Site provided 32 undergraduate students with a nine-week summer, research experience under the guidance of both a faculty and a graduate student/postdoctoral mentor. The program participants were diverse in many respects with 38% underrepresented minorities, 50% women, 19% from primarily undergraduate institutions, 6% military veterans, 50% from outside the state of California, and 75% from schools other than UCSD. Participants were very productive, evidenced by the fact that their research contributed to 25 presentations at national and international meetings and 3 peer-reviewed publications. Follow-up online surveys and telephone interviews with participants from the 2008-2013 cohorts provided in-depth commentary on program features and student takeaways. Students who participated in this REU clearly continued to demonstrate interest in STEM and found STEM professions desirable at follow-up. The REU not only left the participants with a more positive impression of research, but significant gains were reported in helping them decide on academic and career goals. After the REU, the participants have gone on to conduct an impressive array of professional and academic activities.