Growing Research and Educational Programs at a historically-black college
We had the opportunity to work with Melissa Harrington (Vice-President for Research at Delaware State University and Professor of Biology). Delaware State University is a historically-black college comprised of many first generation African-American students attending college. Melissa created and grew many wonderful programs to encourage students at the undergraduate and graduate level to participate in research. She, and her colleagues, have created a PhD program in Neuroscience, an undergraduate neuroscience summer program, and an NIH-funded COBRE program at Delaware State University. The COBRE is a cross-institutional NIH-funded program designed to expand the research infrastructure of Delaware and increase diversity in biomedical sciences. This is achieved, in part, by hiring junior faculty at Delaware State University and the University of Delaware. We had the opportunity to participate in NSF and NIH funded programs to grow neuroscience programs at Delaware State University, and engage students in research via an NIH-funded R25 research education summer program.
Highlighting achievements from HBCUs
There are many ways we can support HBCUs to engage students in research. We recently wrote a short diversity piece for the Society for Neuroscience.
Increasing awareness of research and educational programs
Many students are not aware of opportunities for research at the undergraduate level. I did not know of these either when I was in college. Neither did I know about these when I was a college student! We could maximize the effectiveness of these programs and enhance diversity in STEM fields. Thanks to a partnership with Digital trends, we are creating a campaign to inform students of research and education programs and how they can help achieve career goals.
Making textbook material freely available
The cost of textbooks can be an obstacle for students to learn material and get a college education. This is especially problematic for low income students. We are participating in an NSF Eager award led by Liz Kirby at Oho State University to make textbook material free of costs to students.
Research activities in the Charvet lab
Our lab was located at Delaware State University. We had many great opportunity for students to present their posters. It's been very rewarding to see young students become enthusiastic after presenting their posters. Here you can see members of the Charvet lab present their posters at these events. Many of these activities are funded by grants to enhance diversity in science and research infrastructure in Delaware. Those include the NIH-funded COBRE for the Center for Neuroscience, the NIH-funded Research Education summer neuroscience program (R25), and the INBRE summers program.
Kwadwo Ofori (@i_joe01) was a graduate student in the Department of Biology and he gave a great virtual presentation at the JB Johnston Club for Evolutionary Neuroscience in 2021. He discussed our recent findings identifying corresponding ages between humans and great apes across the lifespan.
Jared Schwartz participated in the summer neuroscience program in 2021 (which is a program organized by Melissa Harrington). Jared gave a fantastic virtual poster presentation the Society for Neuroscience in 2021. He discussed our recent findings identifying corresponding ages between humans and chimpanzees. Incorporating individual variation across diverse populations yields improved age alignments across species. Jared plans to go to medical school.
Jasmine presented her poster at a the Delaware Neuroscience symposium in the summer of 2019 (which was organized by Melissa Harrington). Jasmine was part of the summer neuroscience program (also organized by Melissa). The summer neuroscience program provides paid internship opportunities for students to participate in research over the summer. Our work was published in Cerebral Cortex in 2020 and is available here. Jasmine intends on going to medical school.
Deselyn presented her poster at a the Delaware Neuroscience symposium in the fall of 2018. We studied the evolution and development of retinas in mammals. This work is still ongoing.
The University of Alabama at Birmingham has a great list of opportunities for undergraduate students:
Summer program in neuroscience at Delaware State University:
Summer program at John Hopkins University: