Rationale

In simple terms, Science Identity is viewing yourself as a scientist. Unfortunately, students underrepresented in science are more likely to have moderate to low levels of Science Identity, which progressively decreases throughout their matriculation, contributing to the STEM "leaky pipeline" (1, 2). Accordingly, establishing a positive Science Identity among female undergraduates is key to countering STEM attrition and increasing graduate applications.

Building a Science Identity requires three underlying components (3):

  1. Recognition - student accepts that they are "a science person," and their social circle reinforces this characteristic
  2. Competence - science content knowledge and know-how regarding experimental techniques
  3. Performance - speaking the language of science in informal and formal presentations

Presenting at a scientific conference reinforces the Science Identity of undergraduate researchers and provides valuable experience for graduate school applications. In addition, an essential social aspect of conference attendance is the opportunity for both formal and informal networking with future graduate mentors. Students who have frequent contact with faculty view graduate degrees as a viable option. Regular interactions with faculty are meaningful since students who do not genuinely consider STEM graduate degrees by their final year rarely pursue the opportunity.

Eligibility

Female (cis-female, transgender, nonbinary) students currently enrolled (at least part-time) in a declared College of Science (COS) major are eligible to receive funding to present their research at a scientific meeting. Students who have received their baccalaureate degree by the application submission are not eligible.  
 

Deadline

Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis as long as funds are available. Applicants should apply no less than 30-days before the meeting and will be notified within 30-days of the completed application package.   

Application Process

Students should complete the online application and provide the following information:

  1. A copy of the accepted abstract
  2. The name of the COS faculty mentor(s)
  3. A statement describing how conference attendance will contribute to the applicant's professional development
  4. A letter of recommendation from the applicant's mentor

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Selection Process

A COS Faculty committee will evaluate applications based on the following criteria:

  1. Is the applicant the first-author?
  2. Will the applicant attend professional development activities related to graduate school preparation?
  3. Strength of the letter of recommendation
  4. Likelihood of entering a graduate program after receiving their baccalaureate degree
  5. Is the faculty mentor able to match the COS funds partially or fully?

The evaluation committee will attempt to fund all applicants with an earnest desire to apply to graduate programs as long as funds are available.

Funding Process

Reimbursable expenses include conference registration fees, travel, lodging, and per diem expenses. Students will be required to keep all receipts and will submit original receipts. In addition, students will receive an award letter indicating their responsibilities and how reimbursement will occur.

References

  1. Hurtado S, Cabrera NL, Lin MH, Arellano L, Espinosa LL. 2009. Res High Educ 50:189–214.
  2. Robinson KA, Perez T, Nuttall AK, Roseth CJ, Linnenbrink-Garcia L. 2018. Dev Psychol 54:1977–1992.
  3. Trujillo G, Tanner KD. 2014. LSE 13:6–15.