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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.

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.

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

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  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

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  4. Of 5,000 undergrads in total

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  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

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  6. View Slide

  7. • Imposter syndrome on campus.
    • Knowledge & awareness gaps.
    • Fear & anxiety communicating w/ faculty.
    • Minimal science background might not make them a stand-
    out student.

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  8. • Don’t have time to volunteer.
    • Precarious financial situation.
    • Irregular work scheduling.
    • Hunger, health disparity, homelessness.

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  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).

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  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

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

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  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

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  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.

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  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

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  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.

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  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.

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  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

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