Associate Professor of Biology Mark Davis gave a presentation titled "Developing Interest in Graduate Studies by Increasing Interactions Between Undergraduate Students and Experienced Research Scientists" at the national conference of the 113th annual general meeting of the American Society for Microbiology in Denver.
A summary of his research and findings: The common undergraduate student seldom has significant interactions with successful senior research professionals. This project hypothesized that by increasing student/researcher interactions, through a class assignment, more students would be interested in exploring options in graduate education. A project that consisted of students performing a literature search on a senior researcher and subsequently contacting and interviewing that researcher was designed. The students were then required to present their scientific and personal findings about their senior scientist to their peers in the class. After several rounds of the assignment, student comments along with student assessments of the course were collected and scrutinized. Student career profile data was obtained and analyzed. Students overwhelmingly enjoyed the assignment with the majority of students stating that they believed the barrier between senior researcher and student no longer inhibited their interactions with faculty and researchers. The statistical data showed a significant increase in graduate school matriculation from a level of 15%, which correlates to the national average, before the assignment to 43% after the assignment.