Advancing and Strengthening Science Identity through Systematic Training (ASSIST)

By Janis Bush, PI

The Advancing and Strengthening Science Identity through Systematic Training (ASSIST) program cultivated vibrant STEM leaders from underrepresented minority (URM) students, helping them overcome barriers to achieving advanced degrees in the sciences while simultaneously advancing UTSA’s mission of inclusive excellence.

The ASSIST team brought together researchers from the College of Sciences, the College of Liberal and Fine Arts, and the College of Education and Human Development, in addition to an external member from a federal agency. The team took this uniquely multidisciplinary approach to address challenges that inhibit graduate students, particularly URM graduate students, from pursuing a thesis-option graduate degree in Environmental Science and Ecology. The thesis option makes students more competitive in the workforce, as it demonstrates the students’ ability to conduct independent research and employ communication skills. 

To address this need, the ASSIST team provided systematic training through three key interventions: writing-to-learn pedagogy, the development of public science communication skills, and holistic mentoring by faculty, staff, and peers. This multifaceted approach helped provide the most comprehensive development of the students’ science research identity.


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