Some Oregon colleges are working together and with universities in other states to provide more students, from diverse backgrounds, an opportunity to pursue careers in biomedical research and health sciences.
The students include those from Hispanic, African American, American Indian, Alaskan Native and Pacific Islander descent and those with disabilities, from foster care or lower-income families.
The university is partnering with Oregon Health and Science University, Portland Community College, Chemeketa Community College, Clackamas Community College, Clark College, University of Alaska, University of Hawaii, University of Guam, American Samoa Community College and Northern Marianas College.
“If you have a diversified workforce, you’re going to have a diversity of solutions,” Carlos Crespo, a professor and director at PSU, said.
The grant PSU received is funding a new program called Cross-disciplinary Infrastructure Training at Oregon (EXITO). The grant does expire in five years, but the university is able to apply for more funding. Crespo estimates that EXITO will help 500 students.
Chemeketa will begin recruiting students, who plan on transferring to PSU or other colleges, into the program this winter. Chemeketa has a large population of Hispanic students, and PSU is one of the top schools the students transfer to after receiving their associate’s degree.
There is not yet a set date for EXITO application submissions.
Many of the students at Chemeketa have jobs, take care of family or have financial barriers that make pursuing an internship in biomedical research a challenge.
Adam Privitera, a psychology professor at Chemeketa, said EXITO will give underrepresented students a fair chance at obtaining a career in science.”It is hard for me as a faculty member to have a very gifted student who is interested in research and not be able to offer them the ability to have that experience,” he said.