The goal of UC, Santa Barbara’s Research Mentorship Program (RMP) is to excite pre-college students about scientific research by partnering them with a UC, Santa Barbara researcher or professor performing research. They spend their 6-weeks on campus learning research techniques and working directly with researchers. As such, the Creativity Grant was a perfect match for the program, particularly as UC, Santa Barbara is actively involved in stem-cell research.
In this first year of the grant, UCSB was able to identify 10 such students for receipt of a CIRM stipend. These students do not perform the actual research, but instead, work under the tutelage of a stem-cell scientist in helping with a component of the scientists’ research. Eight of the ten recipients were able to attend the CIRM Conference and Poster Session at Stanford University. Our survey feedback from students involved in CIRM was overwhelmingly positive, with several indicated they believe a life of research is their future. Additionally, two students are still in contact with their mentor, actively still involved with aspects of their mentor’s research. Finally, four students continued their interest in stem-cell research, wishing to continue presenting about their CIRM/RMP experience. These four were accepted to present at the American Junior Academy of Science (AJAS) Conference in Boston, which is held each year in conjunction with the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting. They presented their work and were also taken on tours of several labs in the Boston area. There is little doubt that RMP and the CIRM Creativity Award sparked their passion for scientific discovery. The Research Mentorship Program will be following these students progress as they enter university in the next two years, to discover their chosen university as well as the majors they’ve selected.