Building Integrated Pathways to Independence for Diverse Biomedical Researchers: Project Pathways, the BUILD Program at Xavier University of Louisiana.
California Energy Commission, National Institutes of Health
U54GM119024, UL1GM118967 8TL4GM118968,RL5GM118966
Department of Chemistry
Background and purpose: Xavier University of Louisiana is a historically Black and Catholic university that is nationally recognized for its science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) curricula. Approximately 73% of Xavier's students are African American, and about 77% major in the biomedical sciences. Xavier is a national leader in the number of STEM majors who go on to receive M.D. degrees and Ph.D. degrees in science and engineering. Despite Xavier's advances in this area, African Americans still earn about 7.5% of the Bachelor's degrees, less than 8% of the Master's degrees, and less than 5% of the doctoral degrees conferred in STEM disciplines in the United States. Additionally, although many well-prepared, highly-motivated students are attracted by Xavier's reputation in the sciences, many of these students, though bright and capable, come from underperforming public school systems and receive substandard preparation in STEM disciplines. The purpose of this article is to describe how Xavier works to overcome unequal education backgrounds and socioeconomic challenges to develop student talent through expanding biomedical training opportunities and build on an established reputation in science education. Program and key highlights: The National Institutes of Health (NIH)/National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)-funded BUILD (Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity) Program at Xavier University of Louisiana, Project Pathways, is a highly-innovative program designed to broaden the career interests of students early on, and to engage them in activities that entice them to continue their education towards biomedical research careers. Project strategies involve a transformation of Xavier's academic and non-academic programs through the redesign, supplementation and integration of academic advising, tutoring, career services, personal counseling, undergraduate research training, faculty research mentoring, and development of new biomedical and research skills courses. The Program also focuses on mentor training and providing faculty members with opportunities to improve their teaching skills as well as their research competitiveness. In addition to the wide range of activities supported by BUILD within the institution, Xavier University is partnering with a number of major research universities across the nation to achieve Project Pathways' goals. Implications: The strategies developed by Project Pathways are designed to address the challenges and barriers Xavier students face as they work towards graduate studies and entering the biomedical workforce. Xavier University of Louisiana has a long history of providing high quality, rigorous education to African American students in a very supportive environment with highly dedicated faculty and staff. The program highlighted here could be used by other institutions as a model program for assisting students in STEM and other biomedical fields of study to successfully matriculate through college and graduate school and develop their research careers.
Foroozesh, Maryam; Giguette, M.; Morgan, K. M.; Johanson, Kelly E.; D'Amour, G.; Coston, T.; and Wilkins-Green, C., "Building Integrated Pathways to Independence for Diverse Biomedical Researchers: Project Pathways, the BUILD Program at Xavier University of Louisiana." (2017). Faculty and Staff Publications. 107.