The Iowa Sciences Academy is a leader at the UI in cultivating a campus environment that recognizes the importance of research mentoring. Within each research group, undergraduate students work closely with graduate students, research assistants, post-doctoral fellows, as well as faculty. These individuals have a profound impact on the student’s development and interest in a research career. ISA recognizes student success is promoted through strong mentorship. Research indicates an overall improvement in the quality of the mentoring relationship when mentors participate in mentor training, as well as an overall improvement of the quality of the undergraduate research experience (Pfund et al., 2006; Pfund et al. 2014).
One goal of the ISA is to develop a network of faculty, staff, graduate students, post-docs who register as “Science Allies”. This community of local allies will allow current UI undergraduate students’ access to institutional agents who can offer support throughout their college career, create a peer group of like-minded students interested in STEM fields, and provide opportunities for learning more about STEM majors and research on campus.
The Science Alliance is a new, UI-sponsored collaborative connecting faculty, staff, graduate students, and post-docs who are interested in cultivating future generations of scientists. Three overarching goals drive the program: establishing an online network of campus-wide Science Allies, developing a peer leader program to increase awareness of undergraduate research opportunities, and a Science Alliance Internship Program. The Science Alliance will work cooperatively with other undergraduate research programs including the Iowa Sciences Academy, the UI Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) and the Latham Science Engagement Fellowship Program.
High-school seniors, transfer students and current UI undergraduate science majors can request online to become a Science Alliance Member and connect with the network of faculty, graduate students, post-docs (Science Allies), and the Science Alliance Peer Leaders. Alliance members will receive information about the research programs and opportunities on campus and will be invited to public events such as the ISA Scholar Symposium to gain exposure to undergraduate research.