Science Serving Maryland's Coasts

R/EH-13

Bridge to Marine Science Undergraduate Training in Puerto Rico

Principal Investigator: 

Fredrika C. Moser

Start/End Year: 

2012 to 2014

Institution: 

Maryland Sea Grant

Strategic focus area: 

Resilient ecosystem processes and responses

Description: 

The Pilot Bridge to Marine Science REU program’s goal is to increase interest and participation by Hispanic early stage (defined as rising sophomores and juniors) undergraduate students from different disciplines (biomathematics, biology, chemistry, molecular biology, environmental, computer and social sciences) in marine science. Initial funding was obtained for a planning workshop and a pilot program in summer 2012. In 2013, the project received additional support for a five week program with 11 summer interns. Based on results from a pilot 2012 REU program, the objectives for the 2013 program were:

  1. To strengthen training of rising sophomore and junior STEM and social sciences students in marine science research through mentorship with faculty and graduate students, so as rising seniors they can pursue marine science REU programs in the continental U.S.
  2. To build collaborations among local universities so as to connect social sciences and STEM students by inviting Social Sciences students from other Puerto Rican universities into this program to establish a trans-disciplinary learning environment.

This program is a collaboration between Maryland Sea Grant, Universidad Metropolitana, the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, and the University of Rhode Island,

Impact/Outcome: 

RELEVANCE: Many federal policy makers and scientific societies have called for increasing the diversity of students pursuing education and careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) in order to create a globally competitive workforce. To achieve this goal, academia must create opportunities for college students not traditionally represented in STEM fields. They include immigrants, students who are the first in their families to attend college, people from all ethnic and racial groups, and students with disabilities.

RESPONSE: MDSG used funding in its appropriation from the state of Maryland and from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to provide education and training opportunities for students underrepresented in marine science.  For example, MDSG worked with the Universidad Metropolitana (UMET) in Puerto Rico, a Hispanic-serving institution, to conduct a workshop and a pilot summer project of research and education for undergraduates. 

RESULTS: Through the partnership with UMET, MDSG obtained funding from NSF to train eight Hispanic undergraduates in coastal lagoon research for five weeks in Puerto Rico. Five of these students went on to present the results of their work at national conferences (Association for Limnology and Oceanography, American Chemical Society), and six students applied for and were accepted into mainland U.S. science internships for summer 2013. In 2012, MDSG's own Research Experiences for Undergraduates program, also funded by NSF, supported five students of Hispanic, Asian, and African descent, some of whom were also first-generation college students, during our annual 12-week summer research program. Several minority students from our 2011 REU cohort presented their research at the Ocean Sciences meeting in 2012. In other efforts, MDSG state funds supported two Hispanic students to present their research at the 2012 Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS), and we supported awards for the best poster presentations in marine science. Fredrika Moser, Director of MDSG and principal investigator of the MDSG REU program, was invited to present on broadening participation and evaluating student success at both the American Geophysical Union and Ocean Sciences national meetings. In addition, she was invited by NSF to participate in a panel about broadening participation through social media at the NSF joint annual meeting of researchers funded by NSF's Directorate for Education and Human Resources.