Undergraduate research program supports diversity in STEM fields
Published July 12, 2012
The NDSU Summer Undergraduate Research STEM Program is an important chance to learn, grow and prepare for the future.
The program’s focus is to give underrepresented U.S. students the opportunity to gain valuable research experience with an NDSU faculty mentor in one of the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, commonly known as STEM.
The 2012 program, which ran for eight weeks, culminated with poster presentations Thursday, July 12, from 8 a.m. to noon, in the NDSU Alumni Center. The hope is, with the encouragement to further academic careers, there will be a greater probability students will continue on to graduate school.
The NDSU Office of Multicultural Programs organizes the STEM Program, which began in 2009.
The program gives students from across the country the opportunity to experience NDSU and to learn from faculty in plant sciences, biological sciences, food systems and computer sciences. Students from underrepresented groups who pursue advanced degrees in STEM careers promote economic growth, career competitiveness and are a source for other underrepresented groups.
Since it began, the Summer STEM Program has attracted 55 students from several institutions, including Mississippi Valley State University, Northern Arizona University, Morgan State University, University of Maryland and Spelman College.
Dwayne Sanders, a senior at Virginia State University, enrolled in this year’s program. “I was attracted to the NDSU STEM program after I did research on NDSU and found out how renowned the school is with academics and graduate studies in agriculture research,” said the native of Chester, S.C., who is majoring in agriculture business and economics.
Sanders’ summer research project involved leaf rust on alloplasmic and euplasmic wheat, under the direction of Shahryar F. Kianian, professor of plant science, and graduate student Ryan Burciaga.
“I think students want to travel to NDSU to get an understanding of the major crops that are grown and how different they are to the areas that they are distinctive to,” Sanders said. “I want to own my own ranch one day and obtain my doctorate in hopes of conducting research, along with using my knowledge to teach others.”
Students learned research methodology and application, as well as oral and written communication skills. The schedule included tours, weekly seminars and social, cultural, and educational activities. Students also attended presentations on topics such as professional development by Evie Myers, vice president for equity, diversity and global outreach, and David Wittrock, dean of the NDSU Graduate School.