NIH Grant Expected to Facilitate Transfer of Riverside City College Students to UCR

New “Riverside Bridges to the Baccalaureate Program” awarded five-year grant that also aims to increase underrepresented minority groups in research-oriented fields

Photo shows UC Riverside students doing research in a lab on campus.Photo credit: L. Duka.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – The University of California, Riverside and Riverside City College (RCC) have received a grant of $816,000 from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to help facilitate the transfer of RCC students into science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) majors.

Specifically, the five-year grant launches the Riverside Bridges to the Baccalaureate (Riverside B2B) Program, a new partnership between UC Riverside and RCC. Byron Ford, Ph.D., a professor of biomedical sciences in the UCR School of Medicine, is the grant’s principal investigator. Wolde-Ab Isaac, Ph.D., president of RCC, is the grant’s co-principal investigator.

In 2002, African Americans held only 0.8 percent of the approximately 36,000 research project grants at NIH. Hispanics held 2.3 percent and Native Americans 0.1 percent for a total of 3.2 percent for all underrepresented minorities. A report by the National Science Foundation’s National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics in 2015 noted that the trend for women and minorities in STEM fields has not improved much since the earlier studies.

“It is a wonderful time for UCR to initiate Riverside B2B to capture the growing and promising transfer student cohort enrolled in RCC STEM programs foundational to the biomedical and behavioral sciences,” said Cindy Larive, the interim provost and executive vice chancellor at UCR.

Undergraduate underrepresented minority students at UCR represent 38.1 percent of the total student enrollment and 26.7 percent of students enrolled in STEM-relevant programs. In the last 5 years, 2,720 students at UCR graduated with undergraduate degrees in STEM-relevant sciences and 27.2 percent of those students were underrepresented minorities. However, underrepresented minorities made up only 11 percent of students receiving doctoral degrees in either general or STEM-relevant sciences in the last five years. Over the past 10 years, only 16.7 percent of UCR alumni pursuing advanced degrees were underrepresented minority.

“While higher than the national average, which is less than 10 percent, these data indicate a clear need for programs like Riverside B2B to attract and retain underrepresented minority students to complete graduate training in STEM-relevant sciences,” Ford said. “Our program will identify students at RCC who are committed to pursuing careers in science, and facilitate their transfer and successful completion of baccalaureate degrees in STEM majors – hopefully, at UCR.”

“This increased funding will allow UCR-RCC to continue to strengthen and grow the Riverside Bridges to the Baccalaureate Program,” said Isaac, the president of RCC. “The program has and will continue to play an important role in the development of students in STEM fields. I am personally excited about the partnership generated between two institutions of higher learning, and the opportunities it presents to our students.”

The Riverside B2B Program will provide enrichment opportunities, research experience, and support for RCC students in collaboration with existing pipeline programs at UCR, including the MARC-U STAR Program and the Medical Scholars Program. UCR and RCC join a long list of Bridges to the Baccalaureate participating institutions in the country.

The program provides support to institutions to help students make transitions at a critical stage in their development as scientists. It is aimed at helping students make the transition from two-year junior or community colleges to full four-year baccalaureate programs. Other information about the Bridges to the Baccalaureate Program can be found here.

The Riverside B2B Program is responsive to UC system-wide efforts to streamline and strengthen the transfer process for students coming to UC from the state’s 112 public community colleges. UC President Janet Napolitano is partnering with California State University and California Community College leaders to strengthen higher education in California. One of her first initiatives was to create a team to examine ways to increase demand, provide access, and better serve transfer students.

The Riverside B2B Program will engage about 200 RCC students a year over the five-year period. Five-to-10 students will be chosen each year by RCC and UCR faculty as “B2B scholars.” The students will receive a stipend and travel allowance to attend a scientific meeting.

Media Contact

Tel: (951) 827-6050
Twitter: UCR_Sciencenews

Additional Contacts

Byron Ford, UCR
Tel: (951) 827-2473

Robert Schmidt, RCC
Tel: (951) 222-8596

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