The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

New program to provide inclusive STEM research opportunities

Photo by Samuel Jackson for The Lafayette
Three alumnae will serve as mentors for the McCutchen Research Scholars in STEM Program.

The new McCutchen Research Scholars in STEM program will provide a unique paid opportunity for women and nonbinary students of color to work alongside an alumnae of color in STEM. 

Created by The Hanson Center for Inclusive STEM Education, students selected for the program will receive a paid summer internship to work on-site with one of the three alumnae.

“It’s always a great opportunity to do research outside of the classroom,” said Kareema Gray ’94, an alumna and mentor. “I really think having those experiences will broaden the student experience, particularly around STEM programs, and help students see what part of STEM they are most interested in learning.”

Gray is an associate professor of social work at Johnson C. Smith University, a historically Black college. Selected students will travel to Charlotte, North Carolina to work with her and other students on an ongoing research project.

This program was developed with the collaborative efforts of Hanson Center director Wendy Hill, dean of engineering Lauren Anderson and dean of natural science Lisa Gabel.

According to Hill, the program was created to reduce inequalities within the STEM community by promoting the professional development of women and non-binary students of color.

“Research examining the intersection of race, ethnicity and gender has found that women of color continue to be sorely underrepresented in the STEM fields,” Hill wrote in an email. “Undergraduate research and experiential learning are well-known to be a cornerstone for retaining students in STEM, especially students from historically minoritized groups.”

Hill began developing the McCutchen program last year and modeled it after the LEARN Program, a program she created for students in neuroscience. Both initiatives allow students to conduct hands-on research alongside Lafayette alumnae with relevant backgrounds.

“There is something special about being mentored by an alum – someone who essentially sat in the same seat as you and walked the same hallways – that makes these programs so meaningful and powerful,” Hill wrote.

The other two alumnae participating in the program this summer are Lenora Johnson ‘81, director of the Office of Science Policy, Engagement, Education and Communications at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and Buffie Longmire-Avital ‘02, a psychology professor at Elon University. Neither could be reached for comment.

“Lafayette was a great experience for me,” Gray said. “I had great relationships with my professors — Dr. Wendy Hill was one of them, so any chance I get to reach back out … I’m always, always happy to.”

“Any opportunity as educators, as professors to expose our students to new and different experiences, but also increase the quality of their education journey, I’m just glad to be a part of it,” Gray continued.

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Madeline Convy, Staff News Writer

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