by Lila Levinson
Historically, the world of neuroscience has not been easily accessible for many socioeconomic and minority groups. While representation of diverse groups in neuroscience has grown and been increasingly celebrated in recent years (see, for instance, #BlackInNeuro), demographic changes have yet to filter up the ranks of academia. While data from the last decade suggest that half of neuroscience PhD students and over half of neuroscience undergraduates are women, the average neuroscience program’s tenure track professors are only 30% women. Likewise, while non-white students make up approximately 40% of the student body for both undergraduate and graduate level neuroscience education, an average of only 10% of tenure track neuroscience professors are from minority (non-white) racial and/or ethnic groups. Combatting these inequities requires lowering the barriers to access high quality neuroscience education for people traditionally underrepresented in academia. The CNC is committed to strive for this equity and to address the structural forces that stand in the way. As a part of this goal, the CNC is partnering with other neuroscience groups at UW in the ENDURE program, which aims to prepare a diverse new generation of scientists for success in neuroscience graduate education.
UW ENDURE, funded by the NIH’s ENDURE Blueprint initiative, provides coursework, research experience, professional development, and individualized mentorship to community college students interested in pursuing postgraduate education, with an emphasis on including students from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds. Over three phases, students receive the training they need to be competitive applicants to neuroscience graduate programs.
In the first phase, students take an introductory neuroscience course with CNC affiliate Tom Daniels, receiving college credit and a foundational knowledge of the field. The second phase is a 10-week summer research intensive in which students are matched with faculty mentors (including many CNC faculty and affiliates) and placed in their labs to complete a research project. At the end of the summer, students present their findings at a research symposium. Finally, for students who choose to transfer to UW after completing the first two phases of ENDURE, the third phase includes continued research with their faculty mentors and three quarters of advanced courses on neuroscience and research skills. The first ENDURE cohort to enter the final phase will soon begin a version of the CNC’s Introduction to Neural Coding course (AMATH 342), taught by co-director Eric Shea-Brown. In this course, students will learn the fundamentals of how neurons encode information and how to model and analyze dynamic neural processes.
Applications to join the 2022 ENDURE cohort are open through the end of February and can be found here. Interested students can contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.