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Research Program Spotlight

Daniel A. Brown, Dean of University College

Through Faculty Mentorship, Students Develop Identity as Research Scientists

Dr. Dann Brown
Dr. Dann Brown

STEM Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE)

The SURE program* at Texas State offers students an opportunity to “see” themselves as scientists, to develop a science identity. This is especially important for students who arrive from underrepresented or first-generation backgrounds without much exposure to the careers and lives of scientists. We recruit an amazing group of faculty mentors who direct our student researchers, and I cannot say enough about how welcoming Science and Engineering faculty have been to our program. Some students may complete a program such as this and determine that they wish to take another career route. The majority, however, learn that they are energized and excited about research and begin to make plans for continued post-graduate study and careers.

Engaging students in an authentic undergraduate immersion experience requires funds to compensate them for their time. Underresourced students often face challenges in participating in these kinds of programs because they are juggling school and a part-time job while in college. The SURE program includes a budget for hiring participants to work in a structured, faculty-mentored research program, alleviating their need to work another job. Providing these funds fills a key gap for these students.

SURE has expanded opportunities for undergraduate research at Texas State. I am especially excited about what we are learning through SURE that may enhance our future success with Texas State's 2020 Quality Enhancement Plan, which will focus on this topic. A broader impact of this process is that we may be developing our future faculty as we plant a seed for scientific study and careers through SURE!

The best way to understand the success of Texas State’s SURE program is to listen to student participants describe the program’s impact on them. In the video, you'll hear them talk about the thrill of becoming an expert; the value of building relationships with mentors, other students, and the community; and many other insights on what it means to start down the path of a research scientist.

On being a Hispanic-Serving Institution

Being a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) and receiving Title III / V grants allows Texas State to provide opportunities to students that it might not be able to otherwise. The over-arching goal of the Developing Hispanic-Serving Institutions Program is to “strengthen institutional capacity to serve.” For University College, this isn’t just a goal; it is a commitment to our Hispanic and low-income students, specifically, but to all Texas State Bobcats, more generally. Our HSI success is so important, as many colleges and universities will become Hispanic-Serving Institutions in the future. These new HSIs will need to learn more about how to be successful with programs such as ours if we are to achieve the goals for access and success in higher education in Texas and beyond.

*The SURE program is part of IMPACTing STEM Success at Texas State University, a U.S. Department of Education HSI STEM Title III grant, funded October 1, 2016 - September 30, 2021.

Student Research in Action