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Description, Assessment, and Outcomes of Three Initial Interventions Within a National Science Foundation Research Traineeship (NRT): Onboarding Event, Career Exploration Symposium, and Multidisciplinary Introductory Course

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Conference

2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Graduate Studies Division Technical Session 2

Tagged Division

Graduate Studies

Page Count

24

DOI

10.18260/1-2--36900

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/36900

Download Count

268

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Paper Authors

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Eduardo Santillan-Jimenez University of Kentucky

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Dr. Eduardo Santillan-Jimenez is co-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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Julia E. Parker University of Kentucky

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Julia Parker started working at the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research (UK CAER) as an undergraduate majoring in Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering (BAE) in 2018. At CAER, Julia’s undergraduate research was supported by the Kentucky-West Virginia Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) and a Broadening Participation in Engineering grant of the National Science Foundation (NSF), which also allowed her to attend a summer school focused on the application of renewable energy at the Reiner Lemoine Institute in Berlin, Germany in the summer of 2019. Immediately following graduation, she started pursuing a Master’s in BAE under the mentorship of Drs. Czarena Crofcheck and Eduardo Santillan-Jimenez, performing her research in the laboratories of UK CAER. Julia’s research focuses on the development of methods for the depolymerization of lignin, this being a main constituent of biomass. In so doing, Julia’s work aims to convert this largely waste material into a sustainable source of chemicals and fuels, thereby significantly improving the economics of biorefineries. Her graduate studies and research are currently supported by the NSF LSAMP Bridge to Doctorate Fellowship.

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Keren Mabisi University of Cincinnati

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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 Masters of Gerontological Studies degree from Miami University where her research focused on the lived experiences of Older women living with HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa.

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Carissa B. Schutzman University of Cincinnati Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0001-5453-5973

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Dr. Carissa Schutzman is a Senior Research Associate for the University of Cincinnati Evaluation Services Center where she leads evaluation and research projects and actively represents the UCESC within the university and the community at large. She currently serves as an evaluator for several NSF programs including a National Science Foundation Research Traineeship (NRT) program. Dr. Schutzman has a Ph.D. in Educational Policy and Evaluation in Higher Education from the University of Kentucky, a M.A. from Northern Kentucky University, and a B.A. from Centre College. Methodologically, she is trained in both qualitative and quantitative research and evaluation designs, data collection, analyses, and results dissemination. Dr. Schutzman has extensive experience in program development, implementation, and evaluation in K-12, community college, four-year university, and non-traditional education settings. Additionally, she has expertise in implementing and evaluating workforce development programs that leverage partnerships between education and business and industry. A common thread throughout Dr. Schutzman’s career is her commitment to access and equity in education and the workplace.

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Mark Crocker University of Kentucky

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Mark Crocker received BSc. and Ph.D. degrees in chemistry from the University of Bristol in the U.K., and spent two years as a NATO postdoctoral researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Thereafter he spent 15 years working in industry for first Shell Research and then Degussa’s automotive catalyst division. In 2003 he moved to the University of Kentucky (UK) where he is currently a Professor in the Department of Chemistry and an Associate Director of the Center for Applied Energy Research. At UK he leads a research group focusing on biofuels and environmental catalysis.

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Abstract

A recently launched 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 three initial interventions within this NRT, namely, an onboarding and orientation event, a career exploration symposium, and a multidisciplinary introductory course. In addition, the assessment of each of these interventions – and the outcomes thereof – will be presented and discussed.

Prior to the onboarding and orientation event, trainees received the event’s agenda and checklists summarizing pre- and post-event assignments. Pre-event assignments were designed to familiarize trainees with the NRT, the process of drafting an individual development plan (IDP), and the consent form required for traineeship evaluation purposes. During the event – held online due to COVID-19 – and following introductions, trainees were given the opportunity to ask questions stemming from the pre-event assignments. Subsequently, trainees were introduced to several tools (e.g., checklists as well as sample developmental network maps and mentoring contracts) to guide and track their development and progression through the traineeship. The event concluded with a discussion on topics that also constituted post-event assignments, including registering and preparing for both the career exploration symposium and the multidisciplinary introductory course. Survey data collected after the event indicated that trainees valued the opportunity to learn more about the NRT, ask questions, and meet faculty who expressed a commitment to student success.

Shortly thereafter, trainees attended a career exploration symposium and moderated sessions featuring speakers representing careers of interest. Indeed, the symposium was purposely designed to expose trainees to a wide range of career pathways. In addition, practical career tools and skills for STEM professionals were discussed in several breakout sessions. Finally, the symposium ended with a panel discussion comprising four diverse and accomplished recent Ph.D. graduates, who discussed mental health and communication issues prior to answering questions asked by trainees. Trainee responses to a post-symposium survey were also positive as trainees reported the following: an increase in knowledge of career paths and hiring sectors, an appreciation for the diversity of the presenters and career paths, and the attainment of at least one new skill or strategy they felt would aid in their graduate school success.

In their first semester in the NRT, trainees take an interdisciplinary course covering the high priority convergent research topic targeted by the traineeship. This course is co-taught by faculty of seven different departments and is composed of four units, each focused on a research question requiring extensive interdisciplinary collaboration to be answered. Teams of at least three core faculty with the cumulative expertise needed to answer each question co-teach each unit, emphasizing concepts that students must understand to address the question at hand. During this course, four multi-departmental interdisciplinary student teams are formed, each focusing on – and conducting a critical review of the literature in – one of the research questions. Indeed, emphasis is placed on providing students with the knowledge and tools to find, critically evaluate, summarize, and present literature on the topic.

Santillan-Jimenez, E., & Parker, J. E., & Mabisi, K., & Schutzman, C. B., & Crocker, M. (2021, July), Description, Assessment, and Outcomes of Three Initial Interventions Within a National Science Foundation Research Traineeship (NRT): Onboarding Event, Career Exploration Symposium, and Multidisciplinary Introductory Course Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--36900

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