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Board 245: Description, Assessment, and Outcomes of Several Interventions within a National Science Foundation Research Traineeship (NRT): Graduate Certificate, Field Trips, Internships and International Experiences

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2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Baltimore , Maryland

Publication Date

June 25, 2023

Start Date

June 25, 2023

End Date

June 28, 2023

Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

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Paper Authors


Eduardo Santillan-Jimenez University of Kentucky

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Dr. Eduardo Santillan-Jimenez is PI and project coordinator of a National Science Foundation Research Traineeship (NRT) program designed to enhance graduate education by fully integrating research and professional skill development within a diverse, inclusive and supportive academy. Originally from Mexico, Dr. Santillan-Jimenez joined the University of Kentucky (UK) first as an undergraduate research intern and then as a graduate student performing his doctoral research at the UK Center for Applied Energy Research (CAER) and at the University of Alicante (Spain). After obtaining his Ph.D. in 2008, he worked as a postdoctoral fellow at Utrecht University (The Netherlands) prior to returning to UK, where he now holds the positions of Program Manager at CAER and Adjunct Assistant Professor at the Department of Chemistry. His current research focuses on the application of heterogeneous catalysis to the production of renewable fuels and chemicals, with emphasis on the upgrading of algae and waste oils to drop-in hydrocarbon fuels. His synergistic activities include participating in a number of K-20 educational initiatives designed to increase and broaden participation in STEM fields.

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Carissa B. Schutzman, Ph.D. University of Cincinnati Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Carissa Schutzman is a Senior Research Associate for the University of Cincinnati Evaluation Services Center. In 2020 she joined the Center where she leads evaluation and research projects and actively represents the ESC within the university and the

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Keren Mabisi

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Keren Mabisi is a Junior Research Associate at the University of Cincinnati, Evaluation Services Center. As an external evaluator, she utilizes quantitative and qualitative methods on various NIH, ESF, NIEHS and SEPA funded projects. She obtained a Master

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Apala Biswas University of Cincinnati

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An ongoing National Science Foundation Research Traineeship (NRT) aims to enhance graduate education by integrating research and professional skill development within a diverse, inclusive, and supportive academy. This contribution will describe several interventions within this NRT, namely, a graduate certificate on Innovations at the Nexus of Food, Energy, and Water Systems (INFEWS) – which is the research topic of the NRT – field trips to sites related to INFEWS, internships and international experiences. Moreover, the assessment and outcomes of each of these interventions will be discussed.

A graduate certificate on INFEWS established through this NRT aims to 1) impart both conceptual and technical knowledge related to INFEWS to students; 2) provide them with training on key transferable skills; and 3) equip them to consider the societal, cultural, behavioral, and economic aspects of research on the food, energy, and water nexus. The starting point of the certificate is a multi-departmental and interdisciplinary course on INFEWS. In a subsequent semester students receive training on key transferrable skills in a course designed to integrate these skills with content covered in the foregoing INFEWS course. Completing these core courses gives students 6 of the 12 credit hours needed to attain the certificate. Students earn the other 6 credits by choosing from a list of elective courses. Notably, courses fulfill both certificate and degree requirements, so anticipated time-to-degree is not extended. The certificate is evaluated by assessing student learning outcomes with multiple measures, which include teacher course evaluations of individual courses, the rubric used to review a research proposal that students prepare in the transferable skills course, a professional skills dossier, competency assessments, and student post-surveys.

While field trips to facilities related to INFEWS and internships at sites best aligned with their career interests – inside or outside academia – helped foster a sense of community among trainees and exposed them to various work sites and career paths, international experiences helped them gain a global perspective and appreciation for the international nature of STEM research. Evaluation data related to field trips, internships, and international experiences are collected via student focus group discussions, student post-surveys, student follow-up surveys, and alumni surveys. Additionally, the number and type of internships are tracked, and student placement with the internship host after graduation is also monitored.

By sharing a description of these interventions and details about their evaluation as well as their outcomes, this contribution will inform practitioners interested in similar educational programs and experiences of both challenges and opportunities associated with these initiatives. In turn, this will help the higher education community in its pursuit to identify and implement the best and most effective practices.

Santillan-Jimenez, E., & Schutzman,, C. B., & Mabisi, K., & Biswas, A. (2023, June), Board 245: Description, Assessment, and Outcomes of Several Interventions within a National Science Foundation Research Traineeship (NRT): Graduate Certificate, Field Trips, Internships and International Experiences Paper presented at 2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Baltimore , Maryland. 10.18260/1-2--42688

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