Inter-generational networking is central to the success of this program in which three research-active faculty each mentor three upper-division protégés who in turn each mentor three freshmen. Using this pyramid approach, as many as 3 faculty, 9 upper-division students, and 27 lower-division students are active participants in the program each year. By connecting freshmen with those "in the know", lower-division students begin to learn the pathway to a successful academic career at Cal Poly Pomona and ultimately, to careers in the research sciences.
One-hour mentoring meetings occur each week between faculty mentors and upper-division students serving as mentors, as well as between upper-division student mentors and their freshmen mentees. Faculty mentors share their insights about research and the mentoring process with upper-division mentors, and through open and informative discussions, upper-division mentors help their freshman mentees to become acclimated to university life and informed of research possibilities and realities.
During the fall and winter quarters, freshmen students are also encouraged to enroll in the Success in Science course (SCI 110). Here they acquire practical knowledge and skills important to their success at Cal Poly including effective study strategies, exam preparation, note-taking, and dealing with curriculum issues. They also learn more about careers in science from speakers who come to class or who are make presentations to clubs. Special events are held periodically including field trips to a variety of educational and commercial sites. However, attending a professional scientific meeting each January (CSUPERB) has become the highlight of the year.
Dr. Barbara Burke, Professor of Chemistry and Director of Science Educational Enhancement Services (SEES) serves as the program coordinator for the HHMI Faculty-Student Mentor Program. In 2004, she received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring from none other than the President of the United States. Way to go Dr. Burke!!
The Center for Regenerative Studies is a 16-acre site located adjacent to the Cal Poly Pomona campus that functions as a live-in laboratory for education, research, demonstration and outreach. Students in SCI 110, an orientation course for incoming freshmen science majors, visited the center and were presented with the opportunity to make biodiesel fuel from waste cooking oil. Chemistry instructor, Joelle Opotowsky, facilitated the event.
The California State University Program for Education and Research in Biotechnology (CSUPERB) was developed to encourage excellence in biotechnology-related research throughout the CSU system. Several upper-division student mentors presented their research posters at the annual CSUPERB Biotechnology Symposium.
Mentees assisted Dr. Burke at a polymer demonstration at Cal Poly Pomona provided to about 60 children from Verdugo Elementary School. Mentees found satisfaction and fun in giving back to the community as they shared their enthusiasm and knowledge of science with the local kids.
This year the CSUPERB meeting was held on January 12-14 in Los Angeles and was attended by 21 mentees, 8 upper-division student mentors, and one faculty mentor. All agreed that this was a very positive experience given the numerous opportunities to attend lectures by well-known biotechnology researchers, participate in workshops and learn from student research posters.