Cultivating PhD Aspirations during College.

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Jones, Daniela S
Gillette, Devyn D
Cooper, Paige E
Salinas, Raquel Y
Hill, Jennifer L
Black, Sherilynn J
Lew, Daniel J
Canelas, Dorian A


Price, Rebecca

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Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) career barriers persist for individuals from marginalized communities due to financial and educational inequality, unconscious bias, and other disadvantaging factors. To evaluate differences in plans and interests between historically underrepresented (UR) and well-represented (WR) groups, we surveyed more than 3000 undergraduates enrolled in chemistry courses. Survey responses showed all groups arrived on campus with similar interests in learning more about science research. Over the 4 years of college, WR students maintained their interest levels, but UR students did not, creating a widening gap between the groups. Without intervention, UR students participated in lab research at lower rates than their WR peers. A case study pilot program, Biosciences Collaborative for Research Engagement (BioCoRE), encouraged STEM research exploration by undergraduates from marginalized communities. BioCoRE provided mentoring and programming that increased community cohesion and cultivated students' intrinsic scientific mindsets. Our data showed that there was no statistical significant difference between BioCoRE WR and UR students when surveyed about plans for a medical profession, graduate school, and laboratory scientific research. In addition, BioCoRE participants reported higher levels of confidence in conducting research than non-BioCoRE Scholars. We now have the highest annual number of UR students moving into PhD programs in our institution's history.


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Jones, Daniela S, Devyn D Gillette, Paige E Cooper, Raquel Y Salinas, Jennifer L Hill, Sherilynn J Black, Daniel J Lew, Dorian A Canelas, et al. (2022). Cultivating PhD Aspirations during College. CBE life sciences education, 21(2). p. ar22. 10.1187/cbe.20-06-0111 Retrieved from

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Sherilynn Black

Assistant Professor of the Practice of Medical Education

Sherilynn Black is the associate vice provost for faculty advancement, providing leadership in many areas of faculty advancement including support for pre-tenure and mid-career faculty, professional development for non-tenure system faculty, and mentoring. She also leads initiatives to increase diversity among the faculty ranks. Dr. Black is an assistant professor of the practice of medical education and engages in social neuroscience research on the effectiveness of interventions to promote diversity and equity in academia. She has expertise in creating interventions to increase representation and equity among faculty and students across disciplines, and leads work nationally to catalyze systemic change in academia.

Dr. Black previously served as the founding director of the Office of Biomedical Graduate Diversity for the Duke University School of Medicine and was also a principal investigator of the NIH-IMSD funded Duke Biosciences Collaborative for Research Engagement (BioCoRE) Program. She holds several national appointments relating to faculty development and advancement with the NIH, HHMI, AAMC, The Burroughs Wellcome Fund, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, and the Society for Neuroscience. She currently serves on the Advisory Committee to the Director of the National Institutes of Health (Working Group on Diversity) and has won a number of distinctions, including the Samuel Debois Cook Society Award, the Deans Award for Inclusive Excellence in Graduate Education, and the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Award. She was named one of Cell‘s ‘Most Inspiring Black Scientists in America’. Dr. Black earned her B.S. in psychology and biology with highest honors at the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill as a Morehead-Cain Scholar. She earned her Ph.D. in neurobiology at Duke University and completed additional studies in educational statistics and intervention assessment in the School of Education at UNC–Chapel Hill.


Dorian Canelas

Associate Professor of the Practice of Chemistry

Prof. Canelas has been active in implementation of student-centered pedagogies and developing programs to increase undergraduate retention in science tracks. Research interests include chemical education research and the scholarship of teaching and learning as well as macromolecules for industrial and biological applications, such as microelectronics, coatings, membranes, gene therapy delivery, and blood compatibility.

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