CSUN Program BUILD PODER Receives 2020 Inspiring Programs in STEM Award

Two students from the BUILD PODER cohort in a lab setting

Two students from the BUILD PODER cohort. Photo taken prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo courtesy of Gabriela Chavira

California State University, Northridge’s undergraduate biomedical research training program, BUILD PODER, has received the 2020 Inspiring Programs in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the largest and oldest diversity and inclusion publication in higher education.

The Inspiring Programs in STEM Award honors colleges and universities that encourage and assist students from underrepresented groups to enter the fields of STEM. Winners of this award are selected based on efforts to inspire and encourage a new generation of young people to consider careers in STEM through mentoring, teaching, research, and successful programs and initiatives.

A group of students wearing BUILD PODER shirts standing in front of a building

One of BUILD PODER’s student cohorts. Photo taken prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo courtesy of Gabriela Chavira

BUILD PODER stands for Building Infrastructure to Diversity (BUILD) and Promoting Opportunities for Diversity in Education and Research (PODER). More than 240 students have participated in the program since its launch in 2014. Cohorts have been funded for doctoral, master’s and post-baccalaureate programs, and more than half of BUILD students are currently in graduate programs. More than 60 percent have been accepted into master’s and doctoral programs.

“Taking a Critical Race Theoretical approach, we address the leaky pipeline at institutional, faculty, and student levels. We address structural barriers that diverse students encounter, train mentors to be culturally responsive, and provide the tools to students to thrive in the sciences. In our first five years, we trained 187 students at CSUN, of which 142 have already earned their bachelor’s degrees. Of those who have graduated, two-thirds are already in post- graduate education in the sciences, showing that approach is working,” said Gabriela Chavira, one of BUILD PODER’s principle investigator and a professor of psychology at CSUN.

CSUN will be featured along with 49 other Inspiring Programs in STEM Award recipients in the September 2020 issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine.

“We know that many STEM programs are not always recognized for their success, dedication, and mentorship for underrepresented students,” says Lenore Pearlstein, owner and publisher of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. “We want to honor the schools and organizations that have created programs that inspire and encourage young people who may currently be in or are interested in a future career in STEM. We are proud to honor these programs as role models to other institutions of higher education and beyond.”

In 2019, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced it had awarded CSUN $19 million over the next five years in ongoing support of BUILD PODER. This is one of the largest grants in CSUN history, following the original $22 million five-year grant from the NIH in 2014. The grant is the latest in a 10-year effort to establish a national model at CSUN that can be replicated at educational institutions of higher learning across the country.

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