U of M Researcher Anita Randolph, PhD, Receives NIH Funding to Support Neuroscience Education and Engagement for Underrepresented Middle- to High-School Students
Anita Randolph, PhD, director of the Community Engagement and Education (CEEd) Hub at Masonic Institute for the Developing Brain (MIDB), has received a $1.35 million grant from the National Institutes of Health Research Education Program to bolster its neuroscience education programming.
She will work with a consortium of collaborators, which include faculty from the Neuroscience Opportunities for Discovery and Equity (UMN NODE), Extension and the Departments of Neuroscience, Institute of Child Development, Psychiatry, and Pediatrics, among others, to develop an intervention to facilitate meaningful educational experiences for racially minoritized and other underserved 6th-8th grade students. The overall aim of this multi-faceted intervention is to help these students explore potential opportunities in neuroscience.
“A pressing problem that science is facing is the lack of diversity in our laboratories, institutions, and the Science-Technology-Engineering-Arts-Mathematics (STEAM) workforce,” said Randolph, PI on the grant. “Recruiting, retaining, and training a diverse pool of highly skilled individuals in neuroscience is difficult but imperative for maximizing our investments and our potential in research and education. The STEAM innovation potential of the United States depends on an inclusive STEAM education ecosystem that recognizes all of our talents and prepares our students for a future world increasingly reliant on STEAM fields. This project supports our efforts at the CEEd hub to develop the next generation of underrepresented minorities leaders in STEAM. Our work will expose as many students from underrepresented and marginalized populations to research and clinical career possibilities and provide opportunities for them to meet and engage with underrepresented and marginalized clinicians and scientists with the goal of empowering these students to pursue careers in the STEAM fields at a collegiate level and beyond.”
The Science Education Partnership Award R25 five-year award will begin in January 2024 and aims to:
- Create a novel neuroscience curriculum made available to K-12 educators and educational professionals across Minnesota.
- Coordinate an immersive neuroscience summer camp at MIDB to help youth envision future neuroscience trajectories and careers.
- Implement a year-long mentorship program aimed at diversifying the field of neuroscience by pairing underrepresented graduate student mentors with underrepresented middle-to-high school students to connect and form long-term bonds.
Expected long-term outcomes of the project include examining participants' identity development as future scientists, their increase in knowledge and science processing skills, and active engagement over the length of their participation in the program. Randolph and her team will also measure youths’ learning outcomes using various research data collection and pedagogical assessment tools, including a sustained examination of youth participants’ engagement with the curriculum activities, analyses of the learning artifacts created during the summer immersion camp, and pre- and post-measures of student research skills gained during the year-long mentorship program.