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Keywords:

  • mentoring;
  • undergraduates;
  • minorities;
  • STEM

Abstract

Carl Brändén made significant contributions in areas of protein X-ray crystallography and science education. As the 2011 recipient of the Protein Society award honoring Carl's contributions, I had the opportunity to reflect on the undergraduate educational activities that have been practiced in my own laboratory over the past 24 years at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, an institution that emphasizes both research and undergraduate education. A system has been developed that attempts to minimize the tension that can exist between conflicting graduate research and undergraduate mentoring goals. The outcomes, as measured not only by subsequent activities of the participating undergraduates, but also by the activities of the graduate students and postdocs that worked with the undergraduates, indicate a general overall benefit for all participants, particularly for women and underrepresented minorities who are traditionally poorly retained in the sciences. Greater participation of undergraduates in research activities of active scientists who often focus primarily on graduate and postdoctoral training could have a positive impact on the leaky undergraduate science pipeline.