The HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology and The University of Alabama in Huntsville have joined to form the UAH-HudsonAlpha Outreach Partnership, or UHOP, to support undergraduate biology students at the university.
The National Science Foundation is funding the initiative with a $638,777 grant through the NSF Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, or S-STEM, program.
The partnership will identify high school students who are both academically talented and interested in pursuing an academic and a professional career in the field of biotechnology and recruit those students to enroll at UAHuntsville and major in Biological Sciences. Grant dollars will provide roughly a dozen scholarships over the next four years for students during their freshman year. In return for the scholarships, students will be expected to meet certain obligations required by the grant, such as attending mentoring sessions, completing research training courses and not be employed during their freshman year. Studies show that students that hold jobs during their early college years often become overwhelmed and drop out.
Many students in STEM majors end up switching fields of study because they don’t see the practical application of what they’re doing in class or how it fits in with their career goals. To address this issue, UHOP students will participate in a hands-on lab skills research class at HudsonAlpha during their sophomore year. The skills and confidence they gain will enable them to work successfully when placed in a research lab either at UAHuntsville or HudsonAlpha the next summer