Developing a Successful Research Program at a Primarily Undergraduate Commuter Institution with many First-Generation Low-Income Students.

Developing a Successful Research Program at a Primarily Undergraduate Commuter Institution with many First-Generation Low-Income Students.

Rutgers University - Camden (RUC) is a Primarily Undergraduate Institution with few graduate programs. Reflecting the RUC urban location, the student body is diverse in traditionally underrepresented groups (16% African-American and 13% Hispanic). The Department of Biology has 350 undergraduates. 54% of students are first-generation (neither parent has attended college). 72% of students work off-campus jobs, suggesting a high rate those from a low-income background. 91% of these students are commuters. However, a healthy number of them (15%) pursue graduate programs after attaining their Bachelor’s in Biology with most pursuing MS degrees. This paints a picture of a large student population from diverse and disadvantaged backgrounds that disproportionately strive to further their education. However, the availability of research opportunities for these students is limited due to smaller numbers of faculty members, a need for off-campus jobs, and limited time from long commutes. To address this, we have developed three research programs that integrate authentic research experiences into the curriculum, allowing students to gain authentic research experiences for credit: 1) Principles and Practices of Biological Research (PPBR, 4-cr completely customizable CURE) 2) Bite-Sized Authentic Research Experiences (B-SARE, 6-cr traditional CURE), and 3) RUC-MARC (2-yr traditional mentored research experience). To showcase our students’ research, we also created an undergraduate research journal that features primary research, reviews, and science news called the RUC Journal of Biological Science. We are actively studying the impact of these initiatives on the science identity, retention, and success of our first-generation low-income students.

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Nathan Fried, PhD

July 02, 2019
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  1. Department of Biology Assistant Professor Rutgers University, Camden Nathan T.

    Fried, PhD Developing a Successful Research Program at a Primarily Undergraduate Commuter Institution with many First- Generation Low-Income Students.
  2. Dr. Nathan T. Fried Assistant Professor B.S. Ph.D. IRACDA postdoc

    First-Gen Low-Income Teaching Teaching
  3. Dr. Nathan T. Fried Assistant Professor B.S. Ph.D. IRACDA postdoc

    First-Gen Low-Income Faculty Teaching Non-Tenure Track $75K 12 month salary 3 yr contract 3-3 load
  4. Of 5,000 undergrads in total

  5. The science identity and entering a science occupation, Stets, Social

    Science Research, 2017 Experiential Learning Increased Science Identity Increased Retention & Success The basic equation Find Faculty, Woo them, Volunteer in lab
  6. None
  7. • Imposter syndrome on campus. • Knowledge & awareness gaps.

    • Fear & anxiety communicating w/ faculty. • Minimal science background might not make them a stand- out student.
  8. • Don’t have time to volunteer. • Precarious financial situation.

    • Irregular work scheduling. • Hunger, health disparity, homelessness.
  9. • That 30 min of Saturday lab work might mean

    a 2-4 hr commute. • Parking & transit costs money. • Lack of belonging on campus. • Keeping your entire day on your back (food on the go, sleeping in car, showering, etc).
  10. Good grades not enough NEED experience So… unethical model? First-gen

    often don’t know it Low-income often can’t do it Commuters often can’t accommodate it
  11. PPBR B-SARE MARC Integrating research w/ OUR students in mind

  12. PPBR B-SARE MARC Integrating research w/ OUR students in mind

    • When: second year • What: Completely customizable CURE. Non-competitive research experience baked into curriculum. • First-gen: Outreach to explain why research experience is important and guided to PPBR. Non-competitive. • Low-income: In the curriculum. Given a budget. • Commuter: Team project to fill gaps. Explicitly discuss schedules. Nathan Fried, PhD Kwangwon Lee, PhD
  13. PPBR B-SARE MARC Integrating research w/ OUR students in mind

    Nathan Fried, PhD • When: Summer after second year. • What: Tailoring research Qs to undergraduates by breaking BIG projects into bite-sized ones ready to publish quickly. Micropublishing for authentic experience. • First-gen: Tell students of my own low- income background. • Low-income: Created “internship in biology” so students can get credits w/o “proving themselves”. • Commuter: Very VERY aware of their commutes.
  14. PPBR B-SARE MARC Integrating research w/ OUR students in mind

    Nathan Fried, PhD Fly video from Mathis et al, 2018 Improving mouse and fly behavioral models of pain
  15. PPBR B-SARE MARC Integrating research w/ OUR students in mind

    Nathan Fried, PhD Kwangwon Lee, PhD • When: year 3-4 • What: Flagship $1.2 million NIH undergraduate research training program w/ two full-time summer research experiences. Hopeful to fully integrate MARC w/ IRACDA. • First-gen: One-on-one mentorship to guide students through college. Open MARC programming to ALL students to facilitate community. • Low-income: Tuition covered, ~$13K/yr stipend given. No part- time job needed! • Commuter: Housing provided in dorms for both years.
  16. Staying Research- Productive Move to an undergraduate-accessible organism. Think SMALL

    in a BIG way. Micropublish! Bite-sized project. Don’t balance too much at once. Set expectations, especially for schedules. Consider branching out from main skill-set in your field. Give ownership to self-motivate.
  17. Rutgers Camden Kwangwon Lee, PhD Penn Wenqin Luo, PhD Ishmail

    Abdus-Saboor, PhD Jan Burkhardt, PhD Nathan T. Fried, PhD Rutgers University Camden Assistant Professor The Funding NIH MARC-U-STAR Rutgers Provost Fund Rutgers Affordable Textbooks NIH IRACDA K12 Penn-PORT