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Engaging Underrepresented Groups in Your Research

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As you are probably aware, through all foundation activities, NSF promotes broadening participation in science and engineering fields which includes increasing the participation of underrepresented minorities, women, and persons with disabilities. Including activities aimed at broadening participation in your research proposal is one way to address the NSF Broader Impact Merit Review Criterion. ORSP often sees the mention of the inclusion of underrepresented groups in proposals to NSF in an effort to address the broader impact criterion; however, some proposals lack details of exactly how the research team will actually engage underrepresented groups. UL Lafayette has a wonderful resource for faculty to engage underrepresented groups in their research programs, the Louis Stokes-Louisiana Alliance for Minority Participation (LS-LAMP). LS- LAMP is an undergraduate support program designed to increase the minority student population seeking higher education degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields. The goal of LS-LAMP is to provide research support to students throughout their undergraduate years, leading them to graduate school and on to doctoral degrees in STEM fields. LS-LAMP offers a number of services to their scholars, including mentoring, stipends, support for conference attendance and presentation of research, presentations/seminars, tutoring, resume assistance, and access to an internal research library.

When a student becomes a scholar of LS-LAMP, they will be paired with a mentor in their desired field of research. The scholars usually choose a professor whose research they are interested in studying. During the Fall and Spring semesters, the organization hosts a guest speaker every other Thursday. The speakers are vital to helping scholars who do not already have mentors, and they help facilitate a pairing of mentor and scholar. LS-LAMP meetings also help students network in their field of research with their peers and with older scholars. Finally, the LS-LAMP organization also offers role-playing for individuals who are not comfortable approaching their professors and asking them to become their mentors.

In the state of Louisiana, LS-LAMP is led by Southern University A&M College and is funded by the Louisiana Board of Regents and the National Science Foundation.

If you are interested in serving as a faculty mentor with LS-LAMP or if you would like assistance in recruiting students from underrepresented groups to work in your lab or participate in your research project, contact the LS-LAMP office at 482-6828.