California State University, Northridge’s BUILD PODER program is offering students a unique opportunity to become immersed and gain experience in biomedical research.
BUILD PODER stands for Building Infrastructure to Diversity (BUILD) and Promoting Opportunities for Diversity in Education and Research (PODER). The undergraduate research training program received a $22 million grant over five years in fall 2014 from the National Institutes of Health, with the goal of increasing diversity in biomedical research fields. The first cohort of BUILD PODER students attended CSUN’s Summer JumpStart Program in mid-July, 2015.
CSUN students must apply for the second cohort, set to begin in fall 2016, by Feb. 5. If accepted to the program, students will receive 60 percent of their tuition paid, faculty mentorship and a paid research experience. The mentorship is one of the program’s highlights, as many participants are first-generation college students and may lack academic role models.
“Students get assigned a mentor so they have someone they can connect to and help them develop as a scholar and a student,” said Gabriela Chavira, the student training core director for BUILD PODER. “They will get involved in research projects that their mentors are working on. The mentor is already an expert in the field and they are teaching their students how to get grounded in research.”
Working alongside their mentors, the students receive funding to travel and present at national and regional conferences. This can open up opportunities for students to network with potential doctoral mentors and summer research mentors.
During the summer, BUILD PODER offers a four-week JumpStart Program to give students firsthand experience in research. Focusing on community support, students meet and work with other peers and their mentors. The program gives students the necessary tools to help them develop skill sets to apply for future intensive doctoral programs. The current BUILD PODER cohort includes 37 CSUN students and 16 students from local community colleges, with 75 more participants expected to join them in the fall.
“We are trying to grow as a program, we are hiring new staff to give students more support,” said Chavira. “Next year, everyone is going in together. I want them to be a whole family and I want them to be connected with one another.”
Students also have the opportunity to conduct research over the summer with their five research partner universities: UCLA, UC Irvine, UC San Diego, UC Santa Barbara and Claremont Graduate university. This opportunity is completely funded by BUILD PODER for the summer.
Students interested in applying to BUILD PODER can do so before the Feb. 5 deadline at http://www.csun.edu/build-poder.