CONTACT: MELVIN O. SHAW
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0010; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: July 6, 1999
UI freshmen begin new, five-week summer research program
IOWA CITY -- This
week 13 University of Iowa freshmen will begin the first of a five-week summer
research program called The Iowa Biosciences Advantage, a program designed
to retain and motivate high-ability ethnic minorities to pursue careers in
Through July 30 IBA students will take a specially
designed summer science course and will be paired with UI faculty mentors
from various science-related departments in efforts to provide them with research
opportunities and to familiarize them with science concepts and methods.
The IBA, which is funded by the National Institute
of General Medical Science, is one of 28 such programs created since1997 under
the auspices of the National Institutes of Health, says A. Denita Gadson,
"So many students start college as science majors,
however, the attrition rate is high, and in designing the IBA, we established
three goals," Gadson says.
"The first goal is to retain minority students
in undergraduate sciences, facilitate the students entry into graduate
and professional biomedical science programs, and our overall goal is to prepare
them for careers in the biomedical sciences," Gadson says.
A UI report on the number of degrees conferred to
minority students from 1993-97 shows few pursue a masters or higher
degree, although a double-digit number earn a bachelors degree in the
biosciences, such as 1997 when 26 minority freshmen opted for a science major.
From 1993 to 1997, 119 undergraduate minority freshmen
declared science-related majors, and while 106 earned a bachelors degree
in the sciences, only 14 masters or higher degrees were awarded. The
report says if the UI were to adopt a new array of interventions, the UI could
improve its minority retention records. The IBA is one such intervention.
Participation in the IBA is voluntary, and the students
receive a summer stipend from the program; however, the students do not receive
financial support during the academic year, although many may have earned
scholarships from other sources to help pay their college-related expenses.
Five students from Iowa, six from Illinois, one from South Dakota, and one
from Puerto Rico make up the inaugural class.
"Students participate in the program based on
their desire to succeed. At the IBA we use work with various campus academic
units such as Special Support Services and the Academic Advising Center"
to help the students have successful undergraduate careers, Gadson says.