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   With the aim of developing new minority recruiting strategies and involving
    faculty members more directly in those activities, a life sciences faculty
    committee was established in the summer of 1999 at the initiative of the dean of
    The Graduate School. The committee includes representatives from the
    biological sciences graduate programs–departmental and interdepartmental–
    and from NIH training grants and operates closely with the Minority Affairs Office
    in The Graduate School. In its first year, it expanded the Summer Research
    Opportunity Program (SROP), with committee members participating in placing
    minority undergraduates in university laboratories. This program functions to
    establish connections with the targeted undergraduate institutions and to alert
    their students to the opportunities for life science research at Northwestern and
    research intensive universities more generally. It also helps establish faculty-to-
    faculty linkages between Northwestern faculty members and students’ mentors
    at their home institutions. The SROP activities are continuing during the second
    year, along with a plan for expanded visits by faculty members to targeted
    undergraduate institutions. The format of these visits is flexible and tailored to fit
    the school, but invariably involves a presentation aimed at students on the
    programs in life science at NU, meetings with faculty and administrators, and
    conversations with individual or groups of students.
Direct Involvement of Faculty Members in
Recruiting and Retaining Minority
Graduate Students in the Life Sciences

    Holly Falk-Krzesinski, PhD
    Robert MacDonald, PhD
    Penelope Warren
    Northwestern University
    Evanston, IL
    Introduction: Life Sciences
    Minority Recruitment Committee
   Composition: Training program directors or representatives;
    Representatives of the interdepartmental life sciences graduate
    programs; Minority graduate students; Administrators from The
    Graduate School Minority Affairs Office; Graduate School
    Administrators (Dean, Assoc. Dean, Asst. Dean). Total
    membership ~24 of which 3/4 are faculty members.
   Provides a forum for minority graduate student recruitment and
    retention strategic planning in the life sciences
   Meets quarterly
   Minority Affairs Office in The Graduate School provides extensive,
    necessary administrative support; Dean provides financial support
    for committee activities
   Key component: The committee orchestrates a coordinated effort
    of committed University personnel to identify and pursue effective
    activities and eliminate any duplications in effort.
    Activity #1: Summer Research
    Opportunity Program (SROP)
   Exposes minority students to research and life sciences graduate
   Increased support of program by 10 life sciences students in 1999, a
    doubling from previous years.
        The program is expected to support 13 students this summer, most will be
         from minority institutions with which NU has established close ties
   Selection process: Applications received and pre-screened by
    Minority Affairs; One member of the committee identifies interested
    research faculty then matches those faculty with applicants’ interests
    and background; research faculty receive multiple applications to
    review and rank; Committee member collects rankings and assigns
    matches; Offers made to students.
   Key components: Genuine interest on the part of the faculty advisors
    to train and recruit minority students and provide support through their
    NIH and NSF grants; Strong auxiliary activities coordinated by
    Minority Affairs.
SROP Financial Support
   Institutional support: The Graduate School
   Federal support: Minority research supplements to NIH grants and
    REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) supplements to
    NSF grants. Advisors apply immediately after accepting a student
    to his/her lab. Administrative assistance provided to facilitate
    supplement preparation and submission.
       Last year four applications were submitted, two were funded; this year
        we expect that eleven applications and anticipate most of the students
        will be supported by this mechanism
   Corporate support: $12,500 was solicited last year (Abbott
    Laboratories, Omron Corp., and Nycomed Amersham) by the Chair
    of the committee for the support of two students.
   Key component: Additional support allows for program expansion
    and indicates to the funding agencies the level of involvement by
    individual researchers and of the Committee. Additionally, it is
    prestigious for a student to be supported through NIH or NSF.
SROP Functions
   The entire group is brought together for several group sessions.
        Laboratory and animal handling safety
        Graduate School panel discussion
        GRE test preparation
        Science writing workshop
        CIC research conference
        Research forum and dinner- faculty mentors from home institutions invited to
         attend as well
   New activity: Mini-symposium and Ice Cream Social- to facilitate SROP
    student networking
        Current minority life sciences graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and
         faculty will be invited to participate
        Current minority students in the life sciences will present their research
         projects, background, and career aspirations
        Graduate school overview presented by a program faculty member
        Ice cream social to follow scholarly presentation
   Key component: Activities introduce students to research and graduate
    education in the life sciences and help them establish important networks
    with more senior scientists at Northwestern.
Activity #2: Minority
Conference Attendance
   Committee members and training grant directors attend
    national minority conferences such as the
    NMRC, AISES, and SACNAS meetings.
       Attend breakfasts and other common meals
       Visit poster sessions to talk about research opportunities
        directly with students and their advisors
       Provide general information on Northwestern’s life sciences
        graduate programs and multiple undergraduate summer
        research programs
   Key components: Annual attendance by the same
    people whenever possible allowing us to promote our
    life sciences graduate programs and enabling us to
    develop long-term relationships with conference
    organizers and faculty and administrators at minority-
    serving institutions.
      Activity #3: Targeted
      School Visits
   Committee members visit schools that produce a high number of minority biology
    graduates as well as area universities with a large number of minority life
    sciences students.
      Alcorn State University, Howard University, University of Texas at San
         Antonio, Xavier University in Louisiana, Morehouse College, Chicago State
         University, Illinois Institute of Technology, University of Illinois at Chicago
   Visit formats vary from school-to-school but usually consist of a formal graduate
    school and research presentation, informal conversations with life sciences
    students, and meetings with faculty and administrators.
      Started developing arrangements whereby Northwestern life sciences
         graduate students and postdoctoral fellows present their research to
         undergraduate life sciences organizations at the aforementioned schools to
         give prospective students a clearer understanding of what graduate students
         actually do
   Key components: Through these visits, the Committee works to establish
    connections with the undergraduate institutions, to alert their students to
    opportunities for life sciences research at Northwestern, and to establish faculty-
    to-faculty linkages between Northwestern faculty members and students'
    mentors at their home institutions.
Activity #4: Local Retention
   Individual programs have developed effective strategies to mentor
    minority students once they have matriculated. The Committee
    then provides an efficient conduit to relay effective efforts. The
    Evanston-campus Interdepartmental Biological Sciences Graduate
        Assistant Director serves on Committee and as program’s minority
         affairs coordinator
        Synergistic relationship with Minority Affairs in The Graduate School
        Individualized assistance provided to students, especially before they
         join their dissertation lab, depending on their needs. Past assistance
         has included providing tutoring for students and guidance on how to
         best take exams.
        Last year initiated a program which involves current minority students
         and prospective minority students during formal recruiting weekends
   Key components: Dedication on the part of individual programs to
    their students’ long-term success; Designating at least one
    individual specifically responsible for minority student issues.
Overall Best Practice
   The Life Sciences Minority Recruitment
    Committee has led to the development and
    implementation of effective recruitment and
    retention strategies, most notably:
       Expansion of the Summer Research Opportunity
        Program (SROP)
       Minority conference attendance
       Targeted School Visits
       Establishing long-term, synergistic relationships with
        minority-serving institutions
       Local retention efforts
   Important: Direct involvement of a super-critical
    mass of faculty members with common goals.