Mathematical & Theoretical Biology Institute Research Experience for Undergraduates

Project: Research project

Project Details


Held for 24 consecutive summers, the Mathematical & Theoretical Biology Institute (MTBI) summer research program, has provided mentorship to more than 500 undergraduate students with the goal of facilitating access to and the successful completion of STEM graduate studies. Targeting underrepresented minorities (URMs) in mathematics and science, the program aims to increase representation in these traditionally underserved groups. The program was established in the fall of 1995, and held its first session in 1996 with three self-declared priorities that support the goals outlined in NSAs Mathematical Sciences Program for REUs: , namely, to increase broader participation in the mathematical sciences; to promote wide dissemination of mathematics; and to promote the training of undergraduates and graduate students. More than 400 U.S. participants have attended MTBI over the years; 68% (299) have been URMs. Sixty-five (65) percent283 U.S. participantshave enrolled in graduate or professional school programs, and, through a multi-generational model of mentoring, more than 80 graduate students have participated as both mentors and mentees.
MTBIs objective of exposing undergraduates to scientific research through research scientific questions and solutions that require knowledge of applied mathematics and computational methods is unique in that it allows students to self-select the topics of their research. While this is challenging to both students and faculty, it also serves to inspire and to demonstrate the real-life process that seasoned researchers experience. Three weeks of instruction, with classwork, collaborative learning models including all participants (undergraduates, graduates and faculty) and introduction to appropriate software help to address knowledge disparities and foster the team environment. Program success is measured initially by the quality of the student reports and later, by the acceptance to and completion of a graduate program. These milestones require continual follow up and the support of a community of MTBI alumni and faculty. This proposal requests support for 6 undergraduate participants and predominantly URM summer faculty.
Since 1996, 532 participants, 437 of them U.S. citizens or permanent residents, have participated in MTBI; 68% (299) have been URMs [7]. Through 2019, 283 (65%) of U.S. participants have enrolled in graduate or professional programs. MTBIs U.S. alumni include 132 Ph.Ds. (68 males and 63 females), comprised of 97 URMs (55 males, 42 females). Of the URMs, 19% are African Americans and nearly 80% U.S. Latinos. With U.S. women being an underrepresented group (URG) in the mathematical and life sciences at the doctoral level, the results are even more dramatic. Of the 132 U.S. Ph.D. recipients, 118 (or 89%) belong to an URM and/or URG (including Asian and White/mixed females).
Crucial program components include:
Eight weeks training and mentoring of URM students.
A separate, advanced tract for returning MTBI participants poised to enroll in graduate school.
Participant research opportunities in applied mathematics, statistics, and theoretical biology using research questions selected by students to bolster investment and interestframed in a collaborative approach with researchers from around the country and world.
Recognition for completed research (technical reports, 225 to date).
Research faculty willing and able to mentor student-initiated research with results within a summer.
Efforts to recruit students from URM groups (often from economically disadvantaged circumstances).
Monitoring participant progress post-summer to track their success post-baccalaureate.
High quality minority, non-minority and international faculty to teach, advise, and mentor participants.
Dissemination and visibility for participants research via presentations at SACNAS, AMS/MAA Joint Math Meetings, the B.E.E.R annual meeting and other conferences and symposia.
Lectures and workshops with renowned researchers to exposure participants to current research across academic disciplines, as well as in industry, government, and more, to increase student opportunity and workforce development.
Effective start/end date9/17/209/16/22


  • DOD: National Security Agency (NSA): $75,000.00

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