BOREALIS Scholars Program

BOREALIS Scholars Program

The BiOengineering Research Education to AcceLerate Innovation in STEM (BOREALIS) research education program is designed to advance the diversity of the bioengineering research workforce by creating a pathway to bioengineering graduate study for regional, sociodemographically diverse students. 

Diversity in the research workforce enhances the quality of research and the provision of health care, and promotes innovation and growth—attributes essential for the public’s health and to sustain our nation’s preeminence in science.

“This program will build upon Clarkson’s strong history of welcoming sociodemographically diverse students to campus and ensuring that they have the necessary mentoring support and engineering skills to pursue their life’s work. I look forward to working with these Scholars on campus." Dr. Melissa Richards

The program represents a new pathway for students to learn about bioengineering research at Clarkson.

The University has been awarded $660,475 by the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as part of its Enhancing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Educational Diversity (ESTEEMED) Research Education Experiences program.

With this grant, the university will launch the BOREALIS Scholars program aimed at preparing a diverse cadre of students for careers in biomedical research. The program is led by Professor Laurel Kuxhaus; Assistant Professor of STEM Education Melissa Richards; and Associate Professor Ali Boolani.  

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Female student in lab.

Three students per year will begin the program and will receive intensive mentoring, a hands-on introduction to laboratory research, and paid research experiences as first- and second-year undergraduate students. The BOREALIS Scholars Program will educate, encourage, and support the students to enter the bioengineering workforce by creating a pathway to bioengineering graduate study. 

Students will also be provided a series of educational experiences including a summer bridge program, first and second academic-year activities, and paid summer research experiences at the interface of engineering and medicine. 

A key strength of this program is that students will receive training in research methods from both a clinical and engineering perspective, to prepare them to think holistically and develop practical solutions to real-world clinical problems.

A distinguishing feature of the BOREALIS Scholars program will be comprehensive training on the science of effective mentoring in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) for both the students and mentors. 

  • BOREALIS Scholars are engineering students who are interested in learning more about biomedical engineering, and willing to engage in research related to biomedical engineering as an undergraduate student.  
  • Most BOREALIS Scholars will enter with little or no previous scientific research experience; all will leave with 4 years of research experience. All participants MUST major in some form of engineering.  
  • Applicants must identify as underrepresented in biomedical engineering. To see who is underrepresented in biomedical research, please see information from the NIH website below.

From the NIH website:

Underrepresented Populations in the U.S. Biomedical, Clinical, Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Enterprise

In spite of tremendous advancements in scientific research, information, educational and research opportunities are not equally available to all. NIH encourages institutions to diversify their student and faculty populations to enhance the participation of individuals from groups that are underrepresented in the biomedical, clinical, behavioral and social sciences, such as:

A. Individuals from racial and ethnic groups that have been shown by the National Science Foundation to be underrepresented in health-related sciences on a national basis (see data at http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/showpub.cfm?TopID=2&SubID=27) and the report Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering). The following racial and ethnic groups have been shown to be underrepresented in biomedical research: Blacks or African Americans, Hispanics or Latinos, American Indians or Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders. In addition, it is recognized that underrepresentation can vary from setting to setting; individuals from racial or ethnic groups that can be demonstrated convincingly to be underrepresented by the grantee institution should be encouraged to participate in this program. For more information on racial and ethnic categories and definitions, see the OMB Revisions to the Standards for Classification of Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity (https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-1997-10-30/html/97-28653.htm).

B. Individuals with disabilities, who are defined as those with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, as described in the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended. See NSF data at, https://www.nsf.gov/statistics/2017/nsf17310/static/data/tab7-5.pdf.

C. Individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, defined as those who meet two or more of the following criteria:

  1. Were or currently are homeless, as defined by the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (Definition: https://nche.ed.gov/mckinney-vento/);
  2. Were or currently are in the foster care system, as defined by the Administration for Children and Families (Definition: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/focus-areas/foster-care);
  3. Were eligible for the Federal Free and Reduced Lunch Program for two or more years (Definition: https://www.fns.usda.gov/cn/income-eligibility-guidelines);
  4. Have/had no parents or legal guardians who completed a bachelor’s degree (see https://nces.ed.gov/pubs2018/2018009.pdf);
  5. Were or currently are eligible for Federal Pell grants (Definition: https://www2.ed.gov/programs/fpg/eligibility.html);
  6. Received support from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) as a parent or child (Definition: https://www.fns.usda.gov/wic/wic-eligibility-requirements).
  7. Grew up in one of the following areas: a) a U.S. rural area, as designated by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Rural Health Grants Eligibility Analyzer (https://data.hrsa.gov/tools/rural-health), or b) a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services-designated Low-Income and Health Professional Shortage Areas (qualifying zip codes are included in the file). Only one of the two possibilities in #7 can be used as a criterion for the disadvantaged background definition.

Students from low socioeconomic (SES) status backgrounds have been shown to obtain bachelor’s and advanced degrees at significantly lower rates than students from middle and high SES groups (see https://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator_tva.asp), and are subsequently less likely to be represented in biomedical research. 

The BOREALIS Scholars program is an exclusive opportunity to learn about the bioengineering research process by becoming an undergraduate researcher before the freshman fall semester begins!  BOREALIS Scholars participate in:

  • A pre-first-year full-time bridge program for 5 weeks in Summer 2024 that includes:
  • A preparatory technical course to ensure readiness for the Fall semester, and a seminar about how to successfully navigate college life.
  • Hands-on, scholarly research and actually get to participate as a researcher in a laboratory; students will be matched with research mentors based on mutual interests. 
  • Social events with other student groups on campus this summer.
  • Room, board, and a stipend for the summer program are provided here at Clarkson. 
  • Three pre-campus virtual meetings (via Zoom) in June 2024 to get you ready for the on-campus phase.
  • Paid mentored research experiences during both semesters of the first and second years at Clarkson, with a stipend of up to $10,000 per year. Upon successful entry to the Honors Program in the junior year, Clarkson will continue this stipend in the final two years of undergraduate study.
  • Mentoring and support during the academic year, including but not limited to community-building activities, common courses taken with other BOREALIS Scholars, and completion of a 4-semester-long course about careers as a scientific researcher.
  • An on-campus research experience following the second year of academic study.
  • An application to join the Honors program in the junior year.  Upon entry to the Honors program, students receive additional academic and career preparation support.
  • Mentoring and professional development opportunities to prepare students for next steps beyond Clarkson, which may include applications to graduate school or work in the healthcare field, including healthcare research.
     

If you're interested in becoming a BOREALIS Scholar, you can apply to Clarkson University through the Common Application or the Clarkson App and indicate interest by either speaking to your admissions counselor or emailing borealis@clarkson.edu

Our 2023 Student Scholars

Our inaugural cohort of BOREALIS Scholars includes first-year students Rose Leader, Ciara Nuesi and Jonathan Sanchez-Salgado.

Center Affiliated Faculty and Staff

Bethany Almeida

Bethany Almeida

Assistant Professor

Email: balmeida@clarkson.edu
Office: 315/268-2368

Kevin Fite

Kevin Fite

Associate Professor / Executive Officer

Email: kfite@clarkson.edu
Office: 315/268-3809

Ginger Hunter

Ginger Hunter

Assistant Professor

Email: ghunter@clarkson.edu
Office: 315/268-2391

Melissa King

Melissa King

Assistant Professor

Email: meking@clarkson.edu
Office: 315/268-4405

Melissa Richards

Melissa Richards

Assistant Professor

Email: richarmc@clarkson.edu
Office:

Sarah Treptow

Sarah Treptow

STEM Leaf Project Director

Email: streptow@clarkson.edu
Office: 315/268-6457

Kenneth Wallace

Kenneth Wallace

Professor

Email: kwallace@clarkson.edu
Office: 315/268-4498

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