Professor wins minority grant

 

By Grace Catrambone

Brett Woods, assistant biology professor, has received the Wisconsin Alliance for Minority Participation grant in January. All of the money from the grant will go toward Biology Boot Camp, a program to help students be successful in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.

Biology Boot Camp is designed to give students a better transition into their first semester of biology and their first year on the UW-Whitewater campus.

“I have an interest in helping students, especially minority students in a field in which there are not a lot of minority students,” Woods said. “This is a funding source that allows me to provide assistance for underrepresented minorities in the STEM majors.”

Richard McGregory, assistant vice chancellor of Multicultural Affairs, participated in a similar program at Beloit College where he met Woods.

“A lot of students come from school districts where they don’t have as strong of a science curriculum,” McGregory said, “so they have some gaps. [Biology Boot Camp] helps them fill in some gaps.”

McGregory

While Woods focuses on the science aspects of the camp, McGregory handles the administration and retention aspects. McGregory is in charge of callings, mailings and anything else that helps make students aware of this opportunity.

Biology Boot Camp focuses on study skills and the transition into a new institution.

During the camp, professors are invited to give mock lectures. Students attend these lectures, take notes and are given an exam in which they are allowed to use these notes.

“What a lot of students find is that even when they have their notes available to them they can’t answer the questions, because their notes are not done in a way that actually helps them,” Woods said.

Biology Boot Camp provides class discussions on note taking. These classes teach students how to take notes that will actually help them do well on the exam.

Other benefits of the boot camp include tours of the campus, field trips to the library and fun activities such as movie nights and bowling.

The main advantage of the camp is students get comfortable with their surroundings by meeting professors and other students while becoming familiar with campus before the school year begins.

Along with giving students exposure to the material, Biology Boot Camp raises student awareness of expectations within the STEM majors. Students will learn what level of work, effort and performance is needed to be successful.

Woods

In order to be eligible to participate in the boot camp, a student must be enrolled at UW-Whitewater, meet the requirements in terms of an underrepresented minority and have an intended major in a STEM field.

Biology Boot Camp will take place in August 2013. The tentative dates are Aug. 12 to 23.

Through this program, McGregory hopes to see more underrepresented students stay in STEM majors and graduate from the majors.

Woods said there are good jobs in the STEM areas. This boot camp will help direct students toward successful completion of their majors and into employment in STEM fields.

“They stay here, stay in the majors, graduate from the major and get connected to those STEM opportunities professionally,” McGregory said. “It’s a win-win for everybody.”

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