CONTACT: MELVIN O. SHAW
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0010; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: June 19, 2000
Successful biosciences program now targets high school sophomores
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Beginning July 9 some 15 minority high school sophomores
from across the nation will begin two weeks of study in the Iowa Biosciences
Advantage Sophomore Training and Enrichment Program (IBA-STEP). Like the successful
IBA program after which it is modeled, IBA-STEP was initiated to sustain ethnic
minority students' interests in biomedical research.
While on campus IBA-STEP students will attend class and conduct research
in the biosciences under the direction of a laboratory instructor and will
take part in other IBA-designed program activities, including shadowing second-year
IBA students in their laboratories.
Denita Gadson, IBA assistant director, says the IBA-STEP also is intended
to be a continuation of high school sophomores' search for career choices
and to give them chances to explore the UI as a place to pursue their academic
She says there are biomedical research programs and activities for students
in junior high and for high school juniors and seniors at the UI, but none
existed for sophomores. For that reason, she says, IBA-STEP was created by
the IBA program and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, which also runs several
summer UI programs.
Now entering its second year of a four-year grant funded by the National
Institutes of Health, the IBA program has experienced much success, and on
June 19 will admit its second class of nine students. The nine students, all
of whom are incoming fall freshmen, will spend the next six weeks conducting
lab research and taking IBA-designed coursework.
Twelve of the 14 IBA students who came to the UI as freshmen last June and
spent an ensuing five weeks conducting research and studies in the program
remain in it. On June 5 they resumed their research and college credit coursework,
which includes lab work, taking courses in their majors, and taking an eight-week
IBA-designed writing course especially for students in the biomedical sciences.
Since the last academic year, most students earned a minimum of 22 credit
hours, with IBA courses making up only a few of those hours, says Gadson,
who adds the students' majors are varied, and include biology, biomedical
engineering, and pre-medicine.
"The purpose of the IBA program is to increase the enrollment and graduation
rates of underrepresented minority students with degrees in biomedical science
and ultimately to get these students enrolled in graduate school," she
The creation of IBA-STEP was a logical link in the IBA program's overall
mission to attract and retain high-achieving students of color who have an
interest in biomedical research, says Gadson. She says the IBA-STEP's short-term
goals are to start the students thinking about science, what it means to be
a scientist, and career choices.
"We want to whet the younger students' appetites for study and motivate
them to think about starting and completing their undergraduate, and hopefully,
graduate education at the UI," Gadson says. "We want them to become
acclimated to the UI and Iowa City, and we want them to build a sense of community
with students in other biosciences fields."
Gadson is pleased with the IBA program's early success, which she credits
to strong support by the administration and faculty, and its attractiveness
among students. Many incoming students indicated during their IBA admission
interviews that their decision to attend the UI, in part, was due to the existence
of the IBA program.
Students are selected based on their academic record, interview, personal
essay and supporting letters.
An on-campus symposium is being planned for the fall that will allow the
second-year IBA students to present their research papers or posters.