SURF

Nancy Jauregui

Undergraduate Research in Biology Built on Students Own Funds of Knowledge

The aim of this project is to develop, implement, and assess a new model for undergraduate involvement in research, targeting first and near-first generation to college STEM majors who attend community colleges. First-generation college students are only slightly underrepresented in terms of initial STEM enrollment, but much less likely to complete their degree. Near-first generation students are those who have a parent with a four-year degree, but who have little to no knowledge about success in higher education in the U.S. (e.g., foster children, children of immigrants). Students from both of these groups often lack the social capital (e.g., role models) to gain access to professional experience in their field and may have other burdens (e.g., financial struggles, family commitments) upon entering college. This project is grounded in the culturally inclusive Funds of Knowledge framework that draws on the lived experiences students bring to research and stands in opposition to the deficit model of education that focuses on what students from particular groups lack. The first phase of this project involves learning about the experiences of students, STEM faculty, and scientists (collecting data through surveys and interviews), in order to develop an intervention to facilitate the matching process between students and scientists. Additionally, this information will be used to redesign the traditional undergraduate research experience to allow students to a) work with researchers on an existing project to develop technical skills, b) use these skills to design their own research project in biology, and c) act as “science ambassadors” to share their research designs with members of their own community. Our hope is that cross talk between communities of scientists and nonscientists will inspire researchers to take on more projects that impact local communities and directly communicate with diverse groups about their efforts and findings.

Message to Sponsor

My experience as as a SURF-SMART fellow was amazing. I got to work with Laleh Cot- a grad student who was very helpful and truly wanted me to learn. I learned so much from her and I now feel more confident. My experience has solidified my dreams of applying to PhD programs this year. Thank you so much. It is programs like these that make a difference.
  • Major: Social Welfare
  • Mentor: Laleh Cot