NIEHS welcomes Scholars Connect charter cohort
By Eddy Ball
A new internship program, aimed at getting minority scholars involved in the environmental health sciences, officially launched Sept. 17 at NIEHS. The charter cohort of nine undergraduates from universities in the Raleigh/Durham, N.C., area are part of the NIEHS Scholars Connect Program (NSCP), which is designed to foster the development of students who belong to groups traditionally underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers.
The participants are highly motivated sophomores, juniors, and seniors at St. Augustine’s University (SAU), North Carolina Central University (NCCU), and North Carolina State University (NCSU) with STEM majors. They represent a diverse range of study concentrations in biology, chemistry, mathematics, and public health, and have at least a 3.0 grade point average overall and a 3.5 in their major field(s) of study.
“We ask the students to commit to two semesters, and a third semester is an option,” said NIEHS Office of Science Education and Diversity Director Ericka Reid, Ph.D., who organized the program as semester-long active learning experiences, or connections, for the scholars. “This is the fall connection, which runs Sept. 17 through Dec. 7.”
The scholars will spend up to 20 hours on research-related activities each week, during the 2012-2013 academic year, as paid interns, while they continue their academic programs at their home institutions. Research-related activities include laboratory work mentored by lead researchers, scientists, and postdoctoral fellows, along with literature reviews, participation in lab meetings, and attendance at research workshops and seminars.
The program requires interns to participate in weekly NSCP professional development seminars, where they engage in dynamic dialogues with NIEHS scientists on environmental health research topics. The seminars also aim to further the scholars’ scientific development, through opportunities to receive research-relevant software training, in preparation for presenting findings from their own scientific research at the end of each connection. The presentation represents the culmination of eight to 12 weeks of defining a research project, constructing an appropriate hypothesis, and conducting experiments to test that hypothesis.
NSCP operates under the supervision of part-time program coordinator Courtnea Rainey, a Ph.D. student in psychology at Duke University. The program is funded by the NIEHS Office of the Director, Division of Intramural Research, and Division of the National Toxicology Program.
Beginning in November, NSCP will begin accepting applications for the 2013 scholar selection.