quality of teaching in the sciences may help retain more students. The committee encourages programs designed to increase the diversity of life science majors.
While the curricular changes recommended in this report would improve the learning and skills of all students, it is important to consider that additional changes may be necessary to enable underrepresented minorities to fully achieve their potential as biomedical researchers. Summer bridge programs prior to entry into university, mentoring, study circles, and participation in integrated teams are often found to be helpful. Such initiatives should be made available to all students as needed, but focus should be on making biological education accessible to ethnic and cultural minorities who may have had less exposure to the sciences in their secondary education.
The NSF’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) opportunities are an excellent way to reach broadly into the nation’s student talent pool. The program provides students with the opportunity to be a part of a research lab and see for themselves what graduate education is like. NSF is particularly interested in increasing the participation in research of women, underrepresented minorities, and persons with disabilities. REU projects are strongly encouraged to involve students who are members of these groups. The success of these types of programs is critically dependent on the advising process. Students typically do not learn about such opportunities by themselves. They need ongoing faculty guidance and encouragement to steer them toward such programs.
Demonstrating that biological research is an exciting and appealing area of work is the best way to recruit and retain the most talented students. Interdisciplinary topics that reflect real examples of how science helps to alter and understand the world help convey that excitement. Interdisciplinary topics are also among the most studied today and undergraduate students who begin to grasp the connections between the various approaches to science will be well positioned to contribute to future research.