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Sanford program boosts diversity in the research lab

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The Sanford Undergraduate Research Program (SPUR) was launched in 2010 as an opportunity for students to gain research experience and prepare for a career in science.

It has since become a great way to improve diversity within Sanford Health’s workforce and to introduce research as a career opportunity for students who otherwise might not have access. to these types of opportunities.

SPUR is part of a concerted Sanford effort to bring science and research experience to the people it serves. Programs are available to K-12 students, graduate students, and the community, in addition to undergraduates.

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Lance Lee, Ph.D., is the Director of Higher Education at Sanford Research and has been part of SPUR’s efforts to make research careers more accessible for more than a decade.

“A big part of what we do is recruiting students from under-represented backgrounds,” Dr. Lee said. “This includes under-represented students of color, students with disabilities, students from low-income backgrounds, first-generation students and military veterans. There are many areas where there are students who are under-represented in science. In many cases, they represent small colleges where there are not many research opportunities.

The undergraduate program is partially funded by grants from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. Both, like Sanford Research, have identified diversity as a major mission. Building on this mission, a network involving undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students. students.

Students to career seekers

Ultimately, this holistic approach creates a pipeline that can lead to a career.

“One of our goals is to see students go through multiple stages,” said Dr Lee. “We want students who have participated in the Sanford Undergraduate Research Program to come back as doctoral graduate students. programs. We want them to recognize that Sanford Research is a good way for them to succeed in their careers, wherever they go or whatever career path they choose.

To make this a good fit, you need to make sure that students have the resources they need to be successful. This includes providing a platform for achieving academic and professional goals which includes, but is not limited to the research lab.

“We offer professional development programs that help students identify possible career paths that might excite them and help them seek them out,” said Dr. Lee. “We want to offer professional programming that helps them develop skills – things like communication, writing and presentation – that they will need in their careers. “

SPUR has attracted applicants from all 50 states, Puerto Rico and several other countries since its inception in 2010. Its alumni have graduated and are enrolling in doctoral programs across the country.

“All research institutions need to step up and make a difference,” Dr Lee said. “Sanford Research is definitely committed to doing this. We are opening up opportunities for who could be the next Nobel Prize winner or perhaps the next recipient of the Cross of Lorraine. You cannot do this without having access to research opportunities.

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Posted in Research, Undergraduate College Resources

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