Although undergraduate enrollment in STEM majors has increased in the last two decades, graduate enrollment and
retention in STEM disciplines has remained largely unchanged for a number of minoritized and underrepresented groups.
Indeed, representation from diverse groups decreases as trainees progress along the training and career pathway from
undergraduate to graduate programs, through postdocs, and ultimately to research careers. The proposed postbaccalaureate
research program, the University of Oregon Program to Increase Resilience and Enhance Persistence in Biomedical Sciences
(UO PREP Bio), aims to address challenges in the recruitment, retention, and success along the biomedical training pathway
for scholars from underrepresented backgrounds. The transition between a highly structured, course-based undergraduate
curriculum to a largely unstructured apprenticeship model of graduate education can be a formidable challenge. This is
particularly true for students who have not had the benefit of prior experiences in science that included mentored research.
By offering intentional community building activities, individualized mentorship, productive research experiences, and
academic and professional development—all evidence-informed practices for increasing persistence in STEM fields for
underrepresented groups—UO PREP Bio will enable the successful transition from undergraduate to graduate training
among our cohort of scholars. Recruitment efforts will target trainees for whom intensive mentorship and research
experience at an RI institution would make the most significant impact in their ability to secure admission to a doctoral
program and who would benefit from community building and professional development to be able to thrive and persist in
a challenging PhD environment.
UO PREP Bio will fund four scholars annually for a one-year training program. In order to build community among the
cohort, as well as with participants in other UO research training programs, UO PREP Bio scholars will begin their training
with a summer bridge program in which they live on campus and engage in rigorous writing and graduate application
workshops. Scholars will be matched with a Mentor Team who will support them in developing an Individual Development
Plan, ensuring that their research and training schedule addresses the scholar’s personal and professional goals for their
postbac training and graduate school aspirations. By employing practices demonstrated to increase persistence in STEM
among historically underrepresented trainees, UO PREP Bio will address a significant transition period in the academic
pathway and enhance representation of scholars from diverse backgrounds in biomedical research.