Students who develop a strong interest in research in Biol 111 and 211 will have the opportunity to enroll in the research course. In the research course, 32 students each semester will conduct authentic research as they use modern techniques to investigate novel scientific questions. Following the research course, students will have the opportunity to apply to the NMSU-HHMI apprenticeship-based Research Scholars Program. This two-year program provides students with an in-depth experience of participation in faculty research programs with the support of cohort activities, and associated methods and undergraduate thesis courses. The scaffolded introduction of scientific research will allow us to select Research Scholars who have gradually developed their interest and abilities in science while at the university, rather than depend on students who arrived at the university ready to participate in research.
The proposed vertically-integrated program to introduce students to scientific research will be refined and disseminated through a set of quantitative and qualitative assessments. Quantitative static life table analyses, partitioned by gender and by ethnicity/race, will be used to identify key junctures in undergraduate careers when students are entering or leaving the Biology and Microbiology majors. This will be followed by a pathway analysis that will describe where students go to when they leave the majors and where they come from when they enter the majors. A graduate student from applied statistics will be trained and supervised by the Vice President of Institutional Research to extract and collate this data from the university databases. The NMSU-HHMI Program Director and the VP of Institutional Research will then collaborate as they analyze the data. Once critical pathways have been identified that describe both when many students are lost to the majors and where they are going, as well as critical pipelines into the majors, a more qualitative approach using surveys and interviews will be implemented to determine why students are making particular decisions and how we can modify our programs to help them make well-informed decisions concerning potential careers in science. The analyses will also provide information that will allow us to refine our programs to further increase the diversity of the population of students participating in research at NMSU.