FRI has seen a significant increase in research participation and subsequent persistence among populations underrepresented in the STEM pipeline. This program has permanently altered the culture of our college and resulted in concrete curricular change across all departments. It has begun to serve as a model to inspire other institutions to look beyond traditional barriers to large-scale undergraduate research. In addition, we have made significant progress toward sustainability of these efforts. Evaluation of FRI has demonstrated that the program forges strong and early pathways into research that attract and retain students in science and math, engages large numbers of students in original research that is publishable or otherwise has impact outside the classroom, and improves undergraduate academic success.
Even operating at this scale, however, FRI only serves ~40% of incoming freshmen and far too few transfer students. The current award will support a new phase of research and development aimed at making research experiences more accessible to transfer students, a currently underserved but significant sector of our undergraduate population, as well as upper-level students who missed the opportunity to participate in FRI as freshman. Specifically, we will establish a comprehensive infrastructure to support transfer and upper-level student involvement in research. We will tailor recruitment into research streams and put in place advising and community-building strategies to reach and support transfer students. We will further integrate research experiences into the curriculum to meet the needs of transfer students. We will develop accelerated pathways for transfer and upper-level students to integrate into research streams. We will support transfer and upper-level students in continuing their research through summer internships and advanced research streams. We anticipate that these activities will (1) broaden access to research experiences that are integrated into the undergraduate curriculum, (2) increase involvement of transfer students in undergraduate research, (3) improve community college STEM student involvement in research, and (4) improve persistence of non-FRI participants and transfer students.