National Science Foundation
Undergraduate Research Experiences Are Key To Retaining Minority Students in STEM Fields
Highlight ID 14415_html_mf7a10f6.jpg

Native American and Pacific Islander undergraduate students at the Las Cruces Biological Station.

Permission Not Granted

The Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) at the National Science Foundation (NSF) doubled its investment in focused research experiences for underrepresented minority students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics at our nation's laboratories in 2006. Approximately 25 faculty and 68 students, including community college students, participated in research projects involving energy technology, engineering technology, physics, biosciences, neurosciences, computer sciences, materials sciences and other multidisciplinary scientific and technical areas.  The Argonne, Brookhaven, Fermi, Lawrence Livermore, Oak Ridge, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratories provided venues for these valuable experiences.  Thirteen alliances participated in national lab research experiences in 2006.   

In addition, the Organization for Tropical Studies program at Duke University provided research experiences for Native American and Pacific Islander undergraduate students from participating LSAMP institutions.   Las Cruces Biological Station in Costa Rica was the site for students to complete their independent research projects.   Students from the College of Menominee Nation, Haskell Indian Nations University, Northwest Indian College, Stone Child College, University of Hawaii-Hilo, University of Hawaii-Manoa, University of Vermont, University of Washington, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Washington State University applied to the program in 2006.  Eight students completed the eight-week program in 2006.

Feedback from a student mentor provides insight into the value of research experiences:  "This past summer, I had the pleasure of mentoring two students participating in the Native American and Pacific Islander Research Experiences at Las Cruces Research Station in Costa Rica.  My students were bright, interested, and willing to commit the time and energy required to obtain project success, to grow as aspiring scientists, and to gain perspective about the condition of their fellow human beings in Central America.  My mentoring of the students was both covert and overt.  As a female scientist of Pacific Island descent at a school with name-recognition, I was able to passively demonstrate that success is not only possible, but likely, if desired.  Overt, non-research mentoring was provided through a presentation on how to get accepted into a graduate program.  My two students participated in a project to assess the health of the Guaymi -- an indigenous population residing near Las Cruces -- who are impacted by waterborne disease at far higher levels than that of the general Costa Rican population.  The two students were involved with every aspect of learning science in a social context." 

More Photos:
Highlight ID 14415_html_m1a0f69ca.jpg

Students exploring the habitat (river bed) as part of the summer research experience in Costa Rica.

Credit: Organization for Tropical Studies, Duke University, 2006
Permission Granted

  Web Policies and Important Links | Privacy | FOIA | Help | Contact NSF | Contact Web Master | SiteMap