HSU Attracts $892K for Biology Mentoring - Humboldt State Now

HSU Attracts $892K for Biology Mentoring

Arcata – Humboldt State University will enroll its first group of under represented students next summer under a five-year, $892,000 National Science Foundation grant to mentor undergraduate research in the biological sciences.

Of the nearly $900,000 total, $318,000 will be awarded the first two years. Preference will be given to students entering their sophomore or junior years, particularly Native American and Latino/Latina students.

The official name of the HSU initiative is the Undergraduate Research Mentoring in the Biological Sciences (URM) Program, aimed at increasing the number of students from underrepresented groups who graduate in the biologically-related sciences. It is also designed to expedite the transition into graduate studies.

The URM Program of the National Science Foundation (NSF), which funds HSU’s counterpart, was established to broaden the participation of historically underrepresented groups in science and engineering. The NSF defines the underrepresented in those disciplines as African Americans, Alaska Natives, Native Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Pacific Islanders and persons with disabilities.

Biological Sciences Professor Bruce O’Gara said, “One of the great things about this program is that the students will be involved in an intense, long-term mentoring and research relationship with an individual HSU faculty member. This experience will give them a competitive advantage when they apply to graduate school. Another thing I’m very happy about is that we can pay the students a stipend that will put a substantial dent in the financial burden of paying for a college education.”

Added Wildlife Management Professor and Chair Matthew Johnson, “This program provides $24,000 scholarships to help undergraduates finish their degrees and conduct collaborative research with a faculty mentor. The research and training opportunities in this program will provide a springboard for students to launch their careers as biologists.”

Twenty-three students will be enrolled in four cohorts, five of the students in the first year and six in each of the succeeding years. Each student will receive financial and research support for a period of two calendar years, with most students starting the program at the beginning of their sophomore year. A stipend of $1,000/month will be paid to each student during the 24 months of his or her participation. Students will enter the program in the summer and proceed through a series of three rotations to explore various research projects and meet prospective research mentors. During their first fall semester, students will enroll in a Research Methods Course that will cover the scientific method, study design, proposal preparation, scientific writing and presentation. Each student will develop a detailed research proposal for a project to be pursued for the remainder of the program. Student research will be mentored individually by one of 16 faculty from six departments (Biological Sciences, Fisheries, Forestry and Wildland Resources, Mathematics, Oceanography and Wildlife) in HSU’s College of Natural Resources and Sciences. Faculty research areas will be grouped in three categories: ecology and evolution; physiology, cell and molecular biology; and natural resource management.

Students will be offered a variety of courses, seminars, workshops, presentations and activities to foster success.

Details are available from Dr. O’Gara at bao3@humboldt.edu. The program Web site is at http://www.humboldt.edu/~urm/.