2022 journal article

Cultivating PhD Aspirations during College

CBE—Life Sciences Education, 21(2).

By: D. Jones, D. Gillette*, P. Cooper*, R. Salinas*, J. Hill*, S. Black*, D. Lew*, D. Canelas*

Ed(s): R. Price

Source: ORCID
Added: March 31, 2022

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) career barriers persist for individuals from marginalized communities due to financial and educational inequality, unconscious bias, and other disadvantaging factors. To evaluate differences in plans and interests between historically underrepresented (UR) and well-represented (WR) groups, we surveyed more than 3000 undergraduates enrolled in chemistry courses. Survey responses showed all groups arrived on campus with similar interests in learning more about science research. Over the 4 years of college, WR students maintained their interest levels, but UR students did not, creating a widening gap between the groups. Without intervention, UR students participated in lab research at lower rates than their WR peers. A case study pilot program, Biosciences Collaborative for Research Engagement (BioCoRE), encouraged STEM research exploration by undergraduates from marginalized communities. BioCoRE provided mentoring and programming that increased community cohesion and cultivated students' intrinsic scientific mindsets. Our data showed that there was no statistical significant difference between BioCoRE WR and UR students when surveyed about plans for a medical profession, graduate school, and laboratory scientific research. In addition, BioCoRE participants reported higher levels of confidence in conducting research than non-BioCoRE Scholars. We now have the highest annual number of UR students moving into PhD programs in our institution's history.