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NRMN U01: Creating NRMN MISSION Scholars

By August 23, 2019No Comments

Written by Manoj Mishra, PhD

Professor of Biology

Director, Cancer Biology Research and Training

Director, Freshmen Biology Program

Department of Biological Sciences

Alabama State University


One of NRMN’s awarded U01 projects not only wants to study the effects of mentoring and networking, but also wants to create their own MISSION Scholars (Mentorship, Integration of Students in Scientific Interaction, Organization and Networking) in the process.


This study, named Intersection of Social Capital, Mentorship and Networking on Persistence, Engagement and Science Identity, will focus on first-year undergraduates at three historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs:  Alabama State University, Tuskegee University, and Savannah State University) in the South that are geographically distributed with different individual- and neighborhood-level socioeconomic factors. Using a random, controlled experimental design, the researchers will look at the persistence of underrepresented first-year students.  Students enrolled in this project will be known as NRMN MISSION Scholars.


This proposal will test: 1) the effects of preexisting social and contextual factors on participation of undergraduate students from diverse backgrounds in the biomedical sciences, and; 2) whether mentoring/networking interventions, mainly in the first and second years, influence the persistence, engagement, and development of science identity in students from diverse backgrounds.


Based on historical data and background, this proposal hypothesizes that the preexisting social and contextual capital factors among diverse students mediates the persistence, engagement, and overall success rate of students as individuals and as a group.  This hypothesis will be tested in three aims:  Aim 1 will determine the effects of active intervention through mentoring and networking on engagement and the success of the students (immediate post-intervention effects for first-year and distal effects for second-year and higher-level students); Aim 2 will determine the role personal and contextual factors play in the engagement and success of first-year, second-year, and higher-level students, and; Aim 3 will test whether the immediate post-intervention engagement and success of first-year students mediate the effect of active intervention through mentoring and networking on distal engagement and the success of the students as second-year and higher-level students.


This project relies on a mixed experimental design with random selection and assignment of participants to Active Intervention (test) and Control Intervention (control) groups. The expected outcome of the interventions is increased persistence, engagement, and science identity of the test group resulting in the successful transition to the next career stage.  These proposed outcome measures are consistent with the DPC Hallmarks of Success and will lead to a predictive model that can be translated to persistence and career transition of African American students in other HBCUs and majority institutions.


The partnering institutions in this project are Alabama State University, Tuskegee University, Savannah State University, Vanderbilt University, and the University of North Texas Health Science Center.  The PI for this project is Manoj K. Mishra, Alabama State University

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