Summer research lies at the heart of the HBCU GAP program. From mid-June to mid-August, HBCU GAP scholars can expect to spend much of every day in the laboratory, working side-by-side with UC Davis faculty, postdocs and graduate students in original research in laboratory or field settings, depending on the discipline. This immersion in an original research question helps scholars gain new skills and concomitantly increases their intellectual independence.
“Working in a lab for two years previously I thought that I knew a good bit for an undergraduate. But working in this lab I realized that although I may know how to conduct a few experiments, I never knew how they worked or why we did them at my previous lab. But here I knew why we were doing everything that we did, and that helped me realize the difference between just going through the steps and being a true scientist… I feel more like a scientist after this program.”
Scholars from UC Davis’ HBCU STEM initiatives — PABGAP, NUTGAP, and HBCU GAP — will participate in weekly sessions in professional development that focus on preparing applications for graduate study and career development. As part of this program, scholars will write drafts of statements of purpose and personal histories for graduate applications, and interact with current UC Davis graduate students and faculty in panel discussions.
HBCU GAP scholars also will have the option to visit research facilities at UC Davis and in the adjoining region on tours led by program directors Rick Grosberg and Sean Burgess (HBCU GAP) and Diane Beckles (PABGAP). These sites include the UC Davis Genome Center, Bodega Marine Laboratory, and Bayer Crop Sciences. Thus, students will be exposed to options for advanced study beyond what they experience in their mentor’s laboratory.
“It was helpful to learn about the structure of [Bayer Crop Sciences] and … career opportunities available at the different educational levels…”
Summer will close with a mini research symposium in which HBCU GAP, PABGAP, and NUTGAP scholars present their work to their peers and UC Davis faculty and graduate students. In 2017, UC Davis Chancellor Gary May stopped by to hear talks and meet the HBCU students.
Last, but not least, mentors will remain in contact with summer scholars during their senior year to guide preparation of applications for graduate programs and co-advise honors theses and preparation of research publications.