Home Programs Awards 52008135

Certain cohorts of the U.S. population do not contribute proportionately to biomedical research. Increasing the participation of these currently underrepresented minority (URM) groups is critical to draw from our full potential of scientific talent and to foster a sustainable pool biomedical researchers for the future. URM students with insufficient educational backgrounds are often derailed early from scientific careers due to poor performance in introductory physical science courses. At Cornell we have developed a pre-freshman preparatory (PSP) program to provide disadvantaged students supplemental training in quantitative thinking so that they can succeed in general chemistry courses. The PSP is based on intense problem solving exercises and peer-led learning. A balance of problem types that encourage the development of physical intuition and general chemical reasoning provide the most effective outcomes. Students participating in the PSP not only have greater success in freshman chemistry, but also show improvement in sophomore chemistry courses. Nonetheless, to encourage these students to ultimately pursue careers in research and medicine they require a second bridge. The first phase of this bridge will involve a pre-sophomore organic/biochemistry preparatory course based on the PSP model coupled with an initiation into laboratory work. In the second phase, students will conduct independent research over one summer in a mentored environment. As a group they will receive instruction in work practice, professional development, responsible conduct and hone their writing and presentation skills. Finally, the students will lead scientific outreach efforts to K-12 schools from their originating communities through remote learning platforms that can be readily disseminated through electronic media. Our overall goal is to nurture a group of well-trained, research ready undergraduates who have a passion for science, the desire to engage in research careers and the ability to inspire peers to follow the same path.

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Cornell University
Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology

Ithaca, NY 14853-2801


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