Claflin University's pursuit of recognition for excellence in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) includes cultivating and recruiting high school scholars and introducing them to academic and career opportunities.
The Biomedical/Biomaterials Research Summer Internship Program (BR-SIP) began at Claflin on June 11 and more than a dozen high school students from North Carolina and South Carolina are receiving hands-on training in cutting-edge research. The students are mentored by Claflin's STEM faculty and assigned to a laboratory based on the research being conducted by their mentors.
Participants in the five-week program are learning how to conduct and communicate results of their research, how to use specialized analytical equipment, and how to work collaboratively with a research team to solve real-world STEM problems. The students' experience as researchers expands their awareness of potential STEM careers and new techniques and theories in research.
Funding for the BR-SIP is provided by SC INBRE (IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence -NIH) and SC EPSCoR (Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research-NSF).
"By working with a research mentor, these students will gain valuable research experience that can be applied (in) college," said Dr. Verlie Tisdale, dean of the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and EPSCoR project investigator. "In addition to being immersed in research projects, the students participate in a weekly journal club and discuss how to review and understand scientific articles. Field trips to STEM related sites such as the Greenwood Genetic Center, Coastal Carolina INBRE Laboratories and the Institute for Simulation & Training Laboratories at University of Central Florida are other program activities."
The students also receive training on leadership skills through "Rise of a Young Leader" Program, which teaches and practices leadership and 21st century soft skills. The program is coordinated by the S.C. Afterschool Alliance with training conducted by Hasani X. The SC Afterschool Alliance received funding to partner with an HBCU to train students in STEM Leadership. Their goal is to leverage this summer program with other funding opportunities and be a model for the state.
"There are many complex barriers that decrease the likelihood of students, particularly, underrepresented minorities, graduating from college with a STEM degree," said Dr. Angela Peters, vice provost and INBRE project investigator. "This high school internship program coupled with STEM leadership training will provide pathways and career options within STEM fields, and increase recruitment, retention and graduation in STEM."
The culminating event for the program will be the Research Symposium on Friday, July 13, 10 a.m. until noon at the Molecular Science Research Center. The students will showcase their summer research in a poster session. Admission is free and the community is invited to view posters and meet the students.
"We are hopeful these talented students are impressed with Claflin's academic programs and our emphasis on undergraduate STEM research," said Peters. "Hosting the INBRE program helps us identify and recruit these high-achieving high school scholars. We want Claflin to be at the top of their list of colleges and universities they are considering to continue their education."