Current Research
A Merging of Undergraduate and Graduate Education

In collaboration with Andrew Ellington, PhD, the goal of our HHMI proposal is to establish a unique training experience for undergraduate and graduate chemistry and biochemistry majors, aimed at creating the next generation of both scientist-leaders and scientist-entrepreneurs. We will build on current UT Austin programs that integrate research with undergraduate education to enhance experiential learning, but expand them towards improving entry into professional school and the corporate world.

The impetus for our HHMI program derives from the limited structure of current university education in the United States, which is typically split into distinct two stages: pre- and post-graduate, with little blending of the two. In the sciences, the undergraduate student experience is dominated by completing courses, often with only a small component of research, and little to no career preparation. To improve educational outcomes for the real world, we will establish what we refer to as TRIP and TRIC career tracks for undergraduate students.

The TRIP (Translational Research Initiative-Professional) Program guides and mentors students, especially from underrepresented groups, early in their undergraduate careers. We propose to develop a structured approach that promotes scaling, in which students will be brought into a research group, mentored by graduate students from the start, and involved in the pedagogical aspects of a graduate education as undergraduates, ultimately experiencing firsthand what it means to become a professional scientist.

The TRIC (Translational Research Initiative-Corporate) program will have a parallel goal of guiding and mentoring, again from underrepresented groups, but for a different outcome. Like TRIP, TRIC will provide students with a research experience, but will educate them in what it takes to work in the corporate world, and then back this up by generating real work experience with companies. Our goal is for TRIC graduates to hit the ground running immediately following graduation and to begin their business arc, whether within an existing company or founding their own.

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