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Exploring multiple approaches to engage underrepresented students in research with natural history collections.

Author(s): Molly Phillips1, Adania Flemming2, Jeanette Pirlo3, David Blackburn4

1. iDigBio, Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida 2. iDigBio, FLMNH 3. University of Florida, Florida Museum of Natural History 4. Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida

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Summary:
The iDigBio team has leveraged natural history collections in a 3-pronged approach designed to engage undergraduates from underrepresented groups in collections-based research.

Licensed under CC Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International according to these terms

Version 1.0 - published on 24 Jul 2020 doi:10.25334/1FPC-KQ95 - cite this

Description

Natural history collections contain records of life on earth including unique and rare specimens of extinct species and temporal information on changes in the distributions of native and introduced species. Associated with these collections are personnel that manage and care for these resources and their associated data, and these people serve as both resources and mentors. The collections (objects and data) and the collection personnel are an excellent conduit for introducing and preparing undergraduate students from underrepresented backgrounds for a myriad of careers in STEAM while equipping them with 21st century skills to successfully matriculate as the next STEAM workforce. Programs designed to serve underrepresented students exist on a continuum of how many people you can reach versus how deeply you can support everyone. Increasing reach is often at the detriment to impact and vice versa.

Building from the undergraduate Introduction to Natural History Collections course model created by Flemming et al., the iDigBio team has leveraged natural history collections in a 3-pronged approach designed to engage undergraduates from underrepresented groups in collections-based research at multiple levels and create synergy within our institution around the common goal of broadening representation in the biological sciences. The three programs include a two-day biological career conference and fair created in collaboration with the University of Florida TRIO programs (large reach, shallow impact), a semester-long introduction to natural history collections course (intermediate reach, higher impact), and a paid, collections-based research summer internship program (limited reach, highest impact). Each program has been created to function independently, but also work synergistically for students that participate in multiple activities. During this session we will elaborate on the benefits and drawbacks for each program and explain how these programs can be adopted at other institutions to leverage natural history collections to help provide undergraduate with necessary research experience.

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Comments

  1. 0 Like

    Robert E Furrow @ on

    Great project(s) and engaging presentation. I'm excited to hear more about the course and how to best utilize natural history collections. I'm taking on a California natural history course this winter quarter, and thinking ahead towards developing a CURE related to natural history collections. Hoping to chat at today's (Monday) poster session.

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      Molly Phillips @ on

      We would love to chat with you at the poster session. Another great project for you to check out would be https://qubeshub.org/publications/1956/ Katie Pearson and Jenn Yost developed a CURE relating to their California Phenology Network project.

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    Michelle Anderson @ on

    So interesting, thank you for sharing! I'll try to make the Monday meet - I incorporate natural history across majors and gen ed classes and we have several fairly large but poorly documented natural history collections in our department we are considering how to better utilize. I'm assuming you also are reaching out to ESA's Natural History section?

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      Molly Phillips @ on

       

      We would be more than happy to meet with you outside of the poster session too if you would like. Whatever works best.

      I have gone to the ESA Natural History section's events at conferences a couple of times in the past, but I am not well integrated, and would love to learn more/get updates.

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    Jennifer Kovacs @ on

    Hi- Really cool stuff. I'd love to chat with you about maybe having you "visit" with our students this year. We have a very large first year focus on careers/ internships and I think that natural history collections has been largely overlooked in the past. Hope to chat during your poster time!

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      Molly Phillips @ on

      Hi Jennifer,

      We would love to "visit" and talk about collections-related careers, or find relevant speakers on the topic. Feel free to reach out through email if we miss you in the poster session.

       

      -Molly

       

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    Caroline DeVan @ on

    I would be very interested in hearing more about the career fair as we have been talking about doing something like this for our students who are not going into medical careers or who are curious.   Do you think it could work virtually if needed?  Also, is the internship program open to students around the country?  I would be happy to share the opportunity with my students...

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      Molly Phillips @ on

      We are in the process of converting the career fair and other parts of the iDigTRIO conference to virtual, so we have some ideas, but would love ideas from others too. The internships are open to students around the country though we only have funding for stipends and not housing, so that can limit participation of course.

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    Pat Marsteller @ on

    I love this very comprehensive effort.  Your slides should be seen by all.  Very important connections to community and support for generating interest.

    Thanks.  Love to talk!

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      Molly Phillips @ on

      Thank you Pat! We would love to talk with you too. Our poster is at 1:30pm ET on Monday I believe, but we could arrange something outside of that as well!

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