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Science and Math Achievement and Resourcefulness Track

The NSF funded Science and Math Achievement and Resourcefulness Track (SMART) programs support students in real science experiences and help them gain access to research labs and mentors. The programs also give students practice with scientific communication and prepare them for graduate school in STEM.

There are two complimentary programs that target two of the most underrepresented populations in research. The first is geared towards under-represented minorities (rising sophomores) and the second enrolls students who transferred to UNC as juniors mainly from community colleges. The overall goals are to increase the number of underrepresented minority students who earn degrees in STEM disciplines, pursue graduate study, and become faculty and/or researchers in their chosen field.

Selected students spend nine weeks during the summer doing 30 hours of research per week with a faculty advisor and a grad student/postdoc co-mentor in STEM labs. Students may also enroll in one course. The students meet as a group on a weekly basis with the program director to discuss primary scientific literature and present their research to their peers. They also visit research institutes to learn about post-college research opportunities and the STEM job market. Finally, the students present their research project during a final research poster symposium attended by students and research faculty. We have learned that these methods are quite effective when implemented in our regular research-related classes, and thus, the program has had spill-over effect to the curriculum.

We’ve learned that setting high expectations for these competitive students, together with strong academic support, allows them to reach their potential and passions. We have used our experience gained from the SMART program to additional STEM-related programs that promote the success of under-represented and underprivileged students (e.g. Chancellor’s program).

This program is conducted in partnership with North Carolina A & T University, the lead campus in the North Carolina Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation, (NC-LSAMP) Phase IV.