AWARD YEAR: 2021
DIRECTOR: JULIA KOLB
PROJECT TITLE: PERSIST: PIPELINE ENHANCEMENT TO RETAIN STUDENTS VIA INCLUSIVE STEM TRAINING
Workforce training (e.g., the STEM pipeline) has been recognized as being ‘leaky’ - experiencing unintended loss of trainees from STEM disciplines. Additionally, disparities in STEM career attainment observed for both underrepresented minorities and women have contributed to challenges associated with promoting and maintaining a diverse STEM workforce. As a strategy for addressing these challenges, we propose to provide a STEM early intervention program, PERSIST: Pipeline Enhancement to Retain Students via Inclusive STEM Training, to 80 rising 11th and 12th grade female students demonstrating STEM potential. PERSIST’s overall objective is to enhance the STEM workforce by: 1) Building scientific and technical competencies, and enhancing interest and self-efficacy in STEM professions by providing a two-week simulated biomedical industry summer experience infused with inclusivity and professionalism training; and 2) Strengthening the STEM pipeline by providing academic year programming for bioscience career exploration, mentoring, and professional networking. A summer learning experience will enable students to use active learning and inquiry-based approaches to further their scientific and technical competencies (SSEP Program Goal 1), while simultaneously developing intercultural and interpersonal competence, enhancing interest and enthusiasm for STEM professions (SSEP Program Goals 2 & 3), and earning three college credits. The summer experience will focus on two phases of the FDA drug development process and include guest lectures and discussions with leading drug development and clinical research scientists. The curriculum will incorporate inclusivity training using case studies introducing issues related to health disparities and ethics of using human participants in research, with a particular focus on vulnerable populations. The program will also include professional skills training in an experiential context including skills needed for successful STEM careers. Students will be assigned to a STEM faculty mentor and a peer mentor within their cohort who will facilitate student success. Programming during the academic year will provide opportunities for bioscience career exploration and professional development. The project’s web portal will also link participants with other STEM programs, potential biomedical internship opportunities, and information on STEM-related careers.