The funded NIH T34 U-TEAM: Undergraduate Interdisciplinary Training in Comparative Biomedical Research, established by the Comparative Medicine Institute and Honors Program at NC State University, offers research support to qualifying underrepresented (UR) undergraduate students (as defined by the National Science Foundation – https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-18-210.html) who want to major in biomedical research disciplines with training in team science. The program emphasizes interdisciplinary research training and provides extensive hands-on experience in challenging research projects along with extensive professional development designed to prepare trainees for a successful transition to PhD in biomedical sciences or MD/PhD programs.
Junior and Senior UR students SELECTED to be U-TEAM Research Scholars in Comparative Biomedical Research will receive: a stipend (~$13,104 per year), full NC State in-state tuition and fees, and funds to support Summer research (rising Juniors ~$3,000, rising Seniors ~$3500). Seniors will also receive a travel stipend to attend and present at a National conference (~$1,000).
Qualifying U-TEAM candidates will need to meet requirements for entry into the NC State University Honors Program. In addition, they will be required to enroll in the U-TEAM feeder program and meet the requirements.
U-TEAM FEEDER PROGRAM:
Freshman: Fall and Spring Semesters:
–Introduction to the program. NC State Freshmen honors students will be introduced to the program and broader research initiatives via seminars and lectures. This will be done during regularly scheduled honors program events.
Sophomores: Fall Semester:
-A special topics seminar (HON 398) will be made available through the honors program to all students interested in the U-TEAM program. This special weekly seminar will introduce students to the program in depth, to the faculty mentors and their research on campus, and will provide examples of research projects being conducted by U-TEAM scholars. A final term paper will be written based on the student’s interest in a research topic from one of the U-TEAM mentor’s labs. The class size for HON 398 will be limited to 20 students.
Sophomores: Spring Semester:
-Students will enroll in a special HON 298 course (capped at 20 students – 20 hr/week commitment). U-TEAM candidates would have selected an area of interest based on the previous semester special topics/available mentors and be paired with a graduate student or postdoc who is an associate member of the Comparative Medicine Institute to carry out their first mentored research experience in a U-TEAM mentor’s laboratory. This spring semester will be focused on lab training, basic experimental skill development and a more thorough look at the background of the science being carried out by the mentor. Over the course of the HON 298 research experience, the undergraduate will work with their associate student mentor and their U-TEAM faculty mentor to identify an interdisciplinary research project that involves another CMI laboratory and/or an external laboratory (example: at UNC-Chapel Hill). Together, this team will prepare a 2-page written proposal and a 5 minute “pitch” to be presented by the undergraduate to a panel of U-TEAM leadership and appropriate faculty reviewers. The proposals and presentations are evaluated based on their research merit and appropriateness for an undergraduate research project and will be used as part of the decision-making process for selecting the students to become U-TEAM Research Scholars. They will conduct their proposal topic during the summer. Students not selected will remain U-TEAM Scholars and will be placed in research groups both at NC State and UNC. The U-TEAM Scholars will participate in all aspects of the program but will not receive direct funding from the grant.
Rising Juniors: Summer Session.
Starting in the Summer before their Junior year, the selected students will be engaged in a summer research experience. The research projects and teams would be selected through the HON 398/298 courses in the U-TEAM Research Scholars’ Sophomore year. As the U-TEAM Research Scholars are already engaged in the research in their host labs, they are prepared to rapidly progress their project and develop significant, independent, research skills over the summer internship. The undergraduate students are required to present their research at bi-weekly updates with the U-STAR/SIRI program coordinator and CMI Associate Members. At the end of the summer, the students are required to participate in the NC State Undergraduate Research Symposium as well as the CMI Annual Research & Innovation Summit. The combination of these mentored meetings and presentations provide a significant professional development opportunity in regard to presentation skills and research presentation preparation.
In addition to rigorous one-on-one research mentoring, the U-TEAM program will incorporate a significant amount of professional development mentorship and training for students to prepare them exceptionally well for PhD or MD/PhD studies post-graduation through a series of workshops/seminars. A listing of training workshops that the students are required to participate inare: a) Safety Orientation; b)Diversity Workshop; c) Research Ethics Seminar; and d) Graduate School and the Graduate Research Fellowship.
Juniors: Fall and Spring Semester
U-TEAM Research Scholars will continue to be an active part of their research groups they entered the previous Spring and will be enrolled in Honors or departmental research courses during the Fall and Spring semester (courses require 20 hours per week in the research labs). They will also be required to enroll in the Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) program. In addition, during their junior year, U-TEAM undergraduate Scholars will participate in professional development (PD) activities and courses organized by U-TEAM and other partners across campus. Participation in these skill-building workshops will help prepare the Scholars for graduate school. The U-TEAM undergraduates will also participate in outreach activities in the community.
Rising Seniors: Summer Externships
U-TEAM Research Scholars will participate in a Summer research externship. They will have the option of utilizing the externships developed in partnership with UNC-Chapel Hill or identifying their own. Externships must be approved by the U-TEAM leadership team. For continued professional development, students choosing to go to UNC will have the opportunity to engage in the full range of programs offered at UNC as group or individual sessions with nationally recognized professional consultants in scientific writing and career counseling/planning. As for the internship, after completion of the Summer externship U-TEAM Research Scholars will participate in the NC State Undergraduate Research Symposium as well as the CMI Annual Research & Innovation Summit and present a research poster at both meetings. Selected students will be asked to give an oral presentation of their research at the CMI Research & Innovation Summit.
Senior: Fall and Spring Semester
Research activities will focus on completion of the required Honors capstone research project. Timelines will be developed jointly by the mentor(s) and students. Professional development activities will mirror those provided during the Junior year but with a greater focus on preparation for applications to PhD and MD/PhD. programs. The students will be expected to present their research in a poster or oral presentation at an appropriate national conference.
The application for the U-TEAM Scholars Program can be found at: https://go.ncsu.edu/uteam_comparative_biomedical_research