It has been a busy summer at the BUILDing SCHOLARS Center and at the University. We’ve welcomed new students, wished our graduates good luck, and said “see you in August” to our fellows who traveled to other institutions. The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) also ranked No. 1 in the Brookings Institution Study of U.S. Public Universities out of 342 public universities for “performing well in both research and social mobility.”
Welcome Orientation & Senior Ceremony—May
Twenty one new scholarship recipients (Cohort 2017) and six graduating seniors were recognized and welcomed by BUILD PIs, University faculty and administration, such as Howard C. Daudistel, Ph.D., Interim Provost, and Gary Edens, Ph.D., Vice Present for Student Affairs, at the third annual BUILDing SCHOLARS Welcome Orientation and first-ever Senior Ceremony. The day’s events consisted of a lab coat and senior stole presentation; an overview of the National Institutes of Health diversity initiative (BUILD); student and faculty panels; a parent/student interactive activity; photo sessions; and lunch. For academic year 2017-2018, BUILDing SCHOLARS will cover tuition and stipends of 98 students totaling almost $2 million dollars.
Summer Boot Camp—June
Nine incoming freshmen attended the rigorous three-week intensive college prep program that helps prepare BUILD students for college life; introduces them to careers in biomedicine; encourages team building and serves as a crash course in college-level statistics, reading comprehension, and calculus. It also covers required trainings and certifications, such as responsible conduct of research, a required training component of BUILD. Students also produced promotional videos for the Center. The boot camp was facilitated by the BUILDing SCHOLARS Student Training Core.
Summer Research Program—May through August
A combined total of over 100 students, both BUILD and non-BUILD fellows, participated in the BUILDing SCHOLARS Summer Research Program (SRP) at UTEP and at 12 research partner institutions located in the southwest region including Texas, Arizona and New Mexico. Extra regional partner sites include Massachusetts, Connecticut and South Carolina. Over 90 faculty mentors and 33-second mentors (i.e., graduate students and post-docs) participated this summer.
The SRP matches students with faculty from UTEP and partner institutions to conduct a full-time 10-week summer research project based on mutual research interests and mentor availability. Research nodes include addiction; cancer; degenerative and chronic diseases; environmental health; health disparities; infectious diseases; and translational biomedicine. Social activities and professional development workshops are also part of the program.
“The [program] is an incredible way for our students to gain exposure to new research areas and techniques while networking with scientists and researchers in top labs and on top research teams. The program is designed so that students can potentially meet their future doctoral research mentor during the SRP and then attend graduate school to work with him or her in the future,” said Dr. Sara Grineski, BUILD Co-PI of the Research Enrichment Core.
Due to the overwhelming interest from both students and mentors, BUILDing SCHOLARS was able to support five non-BUILD UTEP students and 22 students from 10 pipeline institutions. Ten BUILD fellows also participated in nine non-BUILD SRPs, including nationally recognized programs at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Stanford University, MD Anderson Cancer Center, and U.S. Health and Human Services.
Research Foundations Course (August)
Nine students will be taking the zero-credit research foundations course (RFC)—a refresher for incoming BUILD students who have previously taken UNIV 1301 or SCI 1301. This course helps prepare students to review the basics of the research process so that they may dive head-first into research driven courses (RDCs) in the fall semester and become active members of the scientific community. The summer RFC differs from the semester-long course required of all students who plan to take RDCs as it condenses the material into two weeks.