New program will mentor and train underrepresented students in genomics research

UC Santa Cruz Genomics Institute will partner with California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) and the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras (UPRRP) campus to mentor and provide a genomics research experience for students from both of these institutions serve Hispanics under a new National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) program.

The inaugural program, called Genome Research Experiences to Attract Talented Undergraduates into the Genomics Field to Enhance Diversity (GREAT), was created to provide students from diverse backgrounds with the opportunity to conduct research and receive professional training at leading schools. research intensive.

CSUMB and UPRRP have been selected to receive a total of $3.35 million over five years to support their students’ participation in this program. UC Santa Cruz, which is also a Hispanic-serving institution, is the only university to partner with both funded institutions.

The CSUMB program, under the direction of Associate Professor Nathaniel Jue and Assistant Professor Shahidul Islam, is in exclusive partnership with UCSC and will send approximately six students per year to UC Santa Cruz. Students at UPRRP, where the program will be led by Professor José García-Arrarás, will have the opportunity to conduct research at several other universities, which will include one to two students at UCSC per year.

Visiting students will participate in a paid summer internship program in which they will contribute directly to research in laboratories associated with the UC Santa Cruz Genomics Institute. During the summer term, they will conduct research, build relationships with faculty and staff, explore whether they might want to pursue graduate research at UCSC, learn about science communication, and participate in workshops. career development to prepare for higher education and industry.

“We take great pride in the fact that when our students leave here, they know they’ve made a real contribution to research,” said Zia Isola, director of the office of diversity programs at the Institute of Genomics. UCSC and principal architect of the UCSC summer program. program. “In some cases, this research will continue through the academic year and beyond, and students will continue to contribute data and sometimes even be included as authors in publications.”

This new program follows the successful collaboration of UCSC and CSUMB during a similar National Institutes of Health program called the Big Data to Knowledge (BD2K) initiative, which was a five-year program focused on training of students in the field of computational genomics that ran from 2015 to 2020. From this experience, Isola said, the Genomics Institute at UCSC focused more on getting ensure that principal investigators, postdocs and graduate students in the labs are trained in inclusive pedagogy and are prepared to provide the best possible mentorship to visiting students. They also aim to emphasize the cultivation of a sense of belonging and the strengthening of students’ scientific identity.

“Virtually all of the students who attend will be first-generation students from underrepresented populations, who may not have seen role models who look like them, so it’s not always easy to feel that sense of belonging,” Isola said. “We want them to come away with that feeling of ‘I belong here, and if I choose that as a career path, it’s something that’s completely accessible to me. “”

Comments are closed.