Rural Alaska Students in One-Health Research (RASOR)
The RASOR project is designed to increase engagement of students from rural Alaska communities in biomedical/STEM careers. Rural Alaskan communities are home to students of intersecting identities underrepresented in biomedical science, including Alaska Native, low-income, first generation college, and rural. Geographic isolation defines these communities and can limit the exposure of students to scientifically-minded peers, professional role models, and science career pathways. However these students also have a particularly strong environmental connection through subsistence and recreational activities, which makes the one-health approach to bio-medicine an intuitive and effective route for introducing scientific research and STEM content. In RASOR, we will implement place-based mentored research projects with students in rural Alaskan communities at the high school level, when most students are beginning to seriously consider career paths. The biomedical one-health approach will build connections between student experiences of village life in rural Alaska and biomedical research. Engaging undergraduate students in research has proved one of the most successful means of increasing the persistence of minority students in science (Kuh 2008). Furthermore, RASOR will integrate high school students into community-based participatory research (Israel et al. 2005). This approach is designed to demonstrate the practicality of scientific research, that science has the ability to support community and cultural priorities and to provide career pathways for individual community members. The one-health approach will provide continuity with BLaST, an NIH-funded BUILD program that provides undergraduate biomedical students with guidance and support. RASOR will work closely with BLaST, implementing among younger (pre-BLaST) students approaches that have been successful for retaining rural Alaska students along STEM pathways and tracking of post-RASOR students. Alaska Native and rural Alaska students are a unique and diverse population underrepresented in biomedical science and STEM fields.
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