(1) Create a supportive environment for the success of every student by establishing a new living-learning program that facilitates academic and social integration of students at risk of leaving the biological and chemical sciences. Key components of the living-learning community include a common residence hall with integrated academic support, community building activities, co-enrollment in introductory science course clusters, and early access to research opportunities.
(2) Create opportunities for students to engage in authentic research during their first semesters via a structured, three-semester sequence (FIRE: First-Year Innovation and Research Experiences) that engages groups of 30-40 students in authentic research centered on a faculty member's research program.
(3) Provide opportunities for extended research involvement beyond the first three semesters through mentoring of first-year FIRE researchers and an undergraduate research fellowship program that supports faculty mentored independent research.
Our existing programs and previous scholarly efforts in enhancing learning and teaching provide a solid foundation on which to build these new initiatives. Our programs already are highly significant contributors to the number of underrepresented minority students graduating and pursuing post baccalaureate research and professional degrees. The rich diversity of our student body affords us the opportunity to impact significantly disparities in academic engagement, success and persistence. The proposed program activities are strongly supported by campus leadership and will be integrated with new campus initiatives in support of expanded living-learning programs, early research involvement, and STEM undergraduate education enhancement ' a context that will help us to sustain and grow our efforts beyond the grant period. A leadership team consisting of faculty of all ranks, student services professionals, and science education research specialists will implement our program. We will measure the impact of our efforts by tracking student progress in meeting STEM degree benchmarks and graduation rates, with particular attention to the success of at-risk populations of students. This effort addresses a nationally recognized problem in undergraduate STEM education and will serve as a model for broader campus and national initiatives.