1. Alexander Rudolph
  2. Professor
  3. Cal-Bridge: A California Bridge to Astronomy and Physics PhDs for California State University and Community College Students
  4. www.cpp.edu/calbridge
  5. California State Polytechnic University Pomona
  1. Kevork Abazajian
  2. Professor
  3. Cal-Bridge: A California Bridge to Astronomy and Physics PhDs for California State University and Community College Students
  4. www.cpp.edu/calbridge
  5. University of California Irvine
  1. Alison Baski
  2. Dean, College of Science
  3. Cal-Bridge: A California Bridge to Astronomy and Physics PhDs for California State University and Community College Students
  4. www.cpp.edu/calbridge
  5. California State Polytechnic University Pomona
  1. Daniel Griggs
  2. https://www.linkedin.com/in/dangriggs/
  3. Communications and Events Coordinator
  4. Cal-Bridge: A California Bridge to Astronomy and Physics PhDs for California State University and Community College Students
  5. www.cpp.edu/calbridge
  6. California State Polytechnic University Pomona
  1. Evan Nunez
  2. Cal-Bridge: A California Bridge to Astronomy and Physics PhDs for California State University and Community College Students
  3. www.cpp.edu/calbridge
  4. California State Polytechnic University Pomona
  1. Katy Rodriguez Wimberly
  2. https://www.facebook.com/astronomouse/
  3. Cal-Bridge: A California Bridge to Astronomy and Physics PhDs for California State University and Community College Students
  4. www.cpp.edu/calbridge
  5. University of California Irvine
  1. Tammy Smecker-Hane
  2. Associate Professor
  3. Cal-Bridge: A California Bridge to Astronomy and Physics PhDs for California State University and Community College Students
  4. www.cpp.edu/calbridge
  5. University of California Irvine
Facilitators’
Choice
Public
Choice
Public Discussion
  • Icon for: Alexander Rudolph

    Alexander Rudolph

    Lead Presenter
    May 13, 2018 | 04:18 p.m.

    Welcome to the NSF Showcase video for the Cal-Bridge program. The Cal-Bridge program is a California based partnership between the California State University and University of California systems designed to increase the number of underrepresented students obtaining PhDs in physics and astronomy. We would love to hear your thoughts about the following questions (or anything else you want to talk about):

    1) What features of the program resonate with you as most impactful on the problem we are addressing? Are any of them interventions you could use in your own program?

    2) What field(s) would be best to tackle next, if we were to expand our model to other parts of STEM (or beyond)?

    3) Could such a program be replicated elsewhere in the country? Where? What would be the advantages other regions might have? What ar the challenges they would face?

    4) How can we make such a program sustainable, beyond NSF funding? Who might support such a program (CSU or UC systems, foundation, corporate, or individual donors, state legislatures)? 

     
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    Katy Rodriguez Wimberly
  • Icon for: Dennis Pearl

    Dennis Pearl

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 14, 2018 | 10:47 a.m.

    Regarding transferability across STEM... The programs that Carlos Castillo Chavez ran at Arizona State University are often cited as the best for increasing the number of underrepresented students getting PhDs in mathematics (especially mathematical biology).  Are the features of your program that are most important to success similar to those that made Carlos' program a success?

     
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    Alexander Rudolph
    Katy Rodriguez Wimberly
  • Icon for: Alexander Rudolph

    Alexander Rudolph

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2018 | 11:09 a.m.

    Thank you for your note. The main pillars of our program are:

    1) Financial aid, so students don't have to work and can concentrate on classes

    2) Intensive joint mentoring for the last two years of undergrad by a team of one CSU and one UC faculty member

    3) Professional development workshops to prepare scholars to apply to PhD programs, and

    4) Research experiences

    I assume you are referring to the MTBI summer research program. It looks like there is some overlap with our work, though our program seems to be more intensive and long-term (3 years v. 1 summer). Are you aware of evidence for the success of the MTBI program? We are still collecting data, but of 20 scholars who have applied to PhD programs in the first 3 years, 18 have been accepted, a 90% success rate.

     
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    Anna Hurst
    Katy Rodriguez Wimberly
  • Icon for: Shabnam Brady

    Shabnam Brady

    Graduate Student
    May 14, 2018 | 12:36 p.m.

    What a great program and video! As a student finishing my Ph.D., I can honestly share that finances and mentorship make a remarkable difference for underrepresented students in STEM. Representation truly matters and allows students to gain a sense of belonging as well as to envision themselves in that field. Financial support reduces stress and can play a role in motivation for graduate studies. What are the recruitment efforts or requirements for this program?

    Thanks and great work!

     
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    Alexander Rudolph
  • May 14, 2018 | 02:15 p.m.

    Hi Shabnam! Thank you! As a 2nd year grad student, I definitely agree with you. The program requirements are to be attending one of the participating Cal State Universities or California Community Colleges, be majoring in astronomy or physics, be in your 2nd or 3rd year of undergrad, show academic potential (with no strict GPA req.) and be motivated to pursue astronomy in grad school. (As a scholar, I really appreciate these requirements!) I can't speak entirely for the recruitment efforts - I know lots of work goes into informing students and professors at the participating universities and colleges of the program. There's, also, been a lot of work to continually expand the program to get more students involved. When I applied, I had heard about the program from my undergrad advisor.

     
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    Alexander Rudolph
  • Icon for: Danielle Watt

    Danielle Watt

    Facilitator
    May 14, 2018 | 03:51 p.m.

    Hello Katy,

    Great project and I look forward to the discussion for ideas to expand from other viewers. Shabnam brings up a great question about recruitment for this program especially in a field that is largely underrepresented compared to the other science disciplines. Given the recruitment area is separated into a North and South CA, are there certain regions where you have increased success? Are students restricted to a UC mentor near their CSU campus or is it open to the student's research/career interest? 

     
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    Alexander Rudolph
  • May 14, 2018 | 05:38 p.m.

    Hi Danielle, 

    Thanks! I look forward to continued discussion, as well. This academic year is actually our first having scholars in North CA. It will certainly be interesting to look at differences in the regions later and hopefully gather recruitment insight from that. As of now, all the scholars have a more local UC mentor. From what I know, each scholar's UC mentor is at least in the same subfield of interest - i.e. galaxy evolution, exoplanets, instrumentation.

     
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    Alexander Rudolph
  • Icon for: Alexander Rudolph

    Alexander Rudolph

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2018 | 05:49 p.m.

    Hello Shabnam and Danielle,

    Cal-Bridge scholars are recruited from the 15 CSU campuses in the Cal-Bridge network. We also do outreach to more than 30 community colleges to tell students there about the program, in case they want to choose to transfer to a CSU to be eligible to participate. By having faculty in each physics department actively recruiting, we have found we can identify and select excellent scholars with great potential to succeed in their goal of pursuing a PhD in physics or astronomy. Hence, in our first three years, 18/20 (90%) of graduating scholars have been accepted to PhD programs, with the other two attending Master's-to-PhD Bridge programs.

    The UC mentors are selected on a number of factors. We do separate by region (North v. South) to facilitate face-to-face interactions between scholars, mostly at all-day workshops held on different UC campuses on a rotating basis. If there is a common research interest between and scholar and their CSU and UC mentor, we will try to assign them together, but in general UC mentors are selected based on availability. 

    The program has been running in the South for 4 years and only 1 year in the North, so we have many more SoCal Scholars so far (30) than in the North (4). As the program expands, we expect the number of NoCal scholars to grow, though there will always be an imbalance based on where the population of California is.

     
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    Danielle Watt
  • Small default profile

    Sunil Somalwar

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 14, 2018 | 03:44 p.m.

    "Never underestimate the power of one" (at 2min and 20 seconds into the video).  Very impressive impact of one program on national numbers!

     
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    Anna Hurst
    Alexander Rudolph
    Katy Rodriguez Wimberly
  • Icon for: Daniel Griggs

    Daniel Griggs

    Co-Presenter
    May 14, 2018 | 03:49 p.m.

    Thank you Sunil! Cal-Bridge is vital work that needs to continue.

     
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    Alexander Rudolph
  • Icon for: Alexander Rudolph

    Alexander Rudolph

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2018 | 05:50 p.m.

    Thanks, Sunil! I hope we can send some Cal-Bridge scholars to Rutgers someday (your institution).

  • Icon for: Anna Hurst

    Anna Hurst

    Informal Educator
    May 14, 2018 | 08:12 p.m.

    The Astronomical Society of the Pacific is committed to increasing participation in science and astronomy, so it is wonderful to see two of our board members (Alexander and Katy) involved in such an impactful program!

     

    Are you at all associated with MESA? We have developed a friendly relationship with them and hope to collaborate in the future. They are focused on encouraging first-generation college students to pursue STEM fields.

     
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    Alexander Rudolph
  • Icon for: Alexander Rudolph

    Alexander Rudolph

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2018 | 10:27 p.m.

    We have a number of MESA programs on our campuses, both CSU and community college, and we often recruit Cal-Bridge scholars from MESA. I agree they are a wonderful resource for connecting with first-generation and URM students interested in STEM.

     
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    Anna Hurst
  • Icon for: Alessa Ibrahim

    Alessa Ibrahim

    Undergraduate Student
    May 15, 2018 | 07:11 a.m.

    As an international student, I was never able to get the support a physics student needs to succeed. 

    Cal-Bridge is why I now have a scholarship, mentoring, and an internship this summer at my dream university, Stanford. The Cal-Bridge community is the only family I have in this foreign country! I can't be thankful enough. 

     

     
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    Alexander Rudolph
    Katy Rodriguez Wimberly
  • Icon for: Alexander Rudolph

    Alexander Rudolph

    Lead Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 02:02 p.m.

    So glad we have been able to support you Alessa. Your success is our success!

  • Small default profile

    Danny Dale

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 15, 2018 | 01:13 p.m.

    Great video, Alex.  We have two Cal-Bridge alumni in our astronomy graduate program, so we know firsthand that these students are well prepared for taking that next time in their career path.  You have a model program -- keep it up!

     
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    Alexander Rudolph
    Katy Rodriguez Wimberly
  • Icon for: Alexander Rudolph

    Alexander Rudolph

    Lead Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 02:03 p.m.

    Our partnership with the University of Wyoming is a model for how we want to work with PhD programs, both within and outside of California, to improve the diversity of our profession. Thanks for being such a great partner, Danny!

  • Icon for: Scott Hildreth

    Scott Hildreth

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 15, 2018 | 01:54 p.m.

    As a Community College faculty member, I'd share that Cal-Bridge program is incredibly important across many dimensions.  It gives me something very tangible to offer those students who are clearly capable of success in the CSU and UC systems, and who are sincerely interested in pursuing research in astronomy and physics as a possible future.  The vibrant network of students, mentors, and advisors that Cal-Bridge has created shows my students that the future - their future -  is very real, and that they have so many doors open to explore, with lots of support.  These are huge factors for community college students.  

    But the program also positively impacts more than just the students who are able, and fortunate enough, to qualify.  By showing my entire class images of other young people enthused about science, and astrophysics, through this video and the other literature and web materials, I can help them better appreciate the reasons - and need - for us as a society to invest in science.  And Cal-Bridge also helps put Community College faculty in touch with colleagues at CSU and UC, and accelerate the transfer of current research.

    I hope that we can leverage this video, and program, to help reach every one of the students in our astronomy and physics programs across the state (and in our 114-odd Community Colleges!)

     

    Cheers,

    SH

     
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    Alexander Rudolph
  • Icon for: Alexander Rudolph

    Alexander Rudolph

    Lead Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 02:05 p.m.

    Hey Scott,

    I am glad the program has been helpful to your students. We rely on our community college partners to identify those students who might succeed in Cal-Bridge; may of our best scholars come from community college!

    We also want our program to be an aspirational goal for all young people, but especially those in community college, just as you describe. We would welcome your help in figuring out how to do that even better. 

    Thanks for your support of the Cal-Bridge program!

    Alex

  • Icon for: Whitney Erby

    Whitney Erby

    Facilitator
    May 15, 2018 | 08:59 p.m.

    What an excellent video! I love that there is not a GPA requirement to engage in this program, especially given the blow to science self-efficacy that occurs after students face difficulties in introductory courses. In the video, you talk about how this program can be used as a model to expand to other STEM areas and programs. How do you envision the expansion? Do you think the Cal-Bridge model is so effective because of the unique consortium of California schools that are engaged or do you think other states have the potential to replicate this program?

     
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    Alexander Rudolph
  • Icon for: Alexander Rudolph

    Alexander Rudolph

    Lead Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 10:31 p.m.

    Dear Whitney, 

    Thanks for your comment. Yes, some of our biggest successes have been scholars who struggled early on but showed us some spark during their interview or summer experience that made it clear they were worth taking a chance on. We always want to be open to that student who had a rough start but really can make it!

    To start the expansion will be purely numerical, which has many of its own challenges, but we are already in discussion with administrators and faculty in a couple of other fields about whether they are interested in the program expanding into their area. The biggest challenge to expansion and sustainability is the long-term commitment of faculty to the program, which is considerable, and of course finding ways to support the program outside of NSF funding, everyone's challenge who has a successful NSF-funded program.

    It certainly helps that we have the higher education system we do in California, but I truly believe that some version of Cal-Bridge could work in at least some other parts of the country with high density of URM students attending non-R1 schools. Some examples might include Texas, Florida, the Southeast (lots of HBCUs), or the New York/New Jersey Atlantic coast area. I would love to work with a region that was interested in adapting our model to figure it out!

     
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    Lorena Medina Luna
  • Icon for: Jay Labov

    Jay Labov

    Facilitator
    May 15, 2018 | 10:58 p.m.

    Thank you for this very informative and inspiring video! It's clear from the number of discussants that you have catalyzed great interest in the potential of Cal Bridge to serve as a national model for improving the success of underrepresented students to excel in their work in STEM.

    One of your questions is about sustainability. There are currently other models for funding (e.g., NIH's MARC program for supporting graduate education for underrepresented students in the biomedical sciences: https://www.nigms.nih.gov/Training/MARC/Pages/U...). Since science is so highly collaborative and transdisciplinary, I wonder whether some of the federal funding agencies such as NIH can be convinced to increase the breadth of students from other disciplines if those students have interest ultimately in biomedical research problems.

    For a broader perspective of graduate education in STEM, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine will be releasing a new study on the future of graduate education in STEM on May 29. Additional information about this project, including a link to register to participate in the release event that day (either in person if you're in the DC area or virtually) is available at http://sites.nationalacademies.org/PGA/bhew/gra...

     
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    Alexander Rudolph
  • Icon for: Alexander Rudolph

    Alexander Rudolph

    Lead Presenter
    May 16, 2018 | 03:48 a.m.

    Dear Jay,

    We would love for the NSF to make a long-term commitment like the NIH MARC to graduate education for underrepresented students in STEM. Currently, the NSF model is for short-term support, like we receive from S-STEM, which then needs to be translated into other forms of support. The Cal-Bridge program has a Leadership Council made up of Graduate Deans from the UC and Science Deans from the CSU system one of whose main tasks is to help us work with the higher education system in California, as well as potential private, corporate, and foundation donors, to find ways to make programs like Cal-Bridge sustainable. Any help we can get with that process is very welcome. 

    Thank you also for the heads-up about the new National Academies study on graduate education. I look forward to reading it!

    P.S. Your link seems to have been cut off and leads to a File Not Found page. Would you mind reposting the full link? Thanks!

  • Icon for: Jay Labov

    Jay Labov

    Facilitator
    May 16, 2018 | 11:37 a.m.

    Sorry about the "missing link" about the Academies' project on graduate education. It does appear that the website cut off the end of the url. Here it is again: http://sites.nationalacademies.org/PGA/bhew/graded/index.htm.

    As for longer-term funding of the program and the issues with the ways that NSF currently supports such efforts (vs. NIH-MARC): I wonder whether you might think of a different funding model. I wonder (and this is only my thinking - I've had no discussion whatever with people NSF) whether there might be some way to get support for individual students rather than (or in addition to) support for the program itself. NSF provides graduate fellowships to individual students for several years. Perhaps some discussions with NSF program officers in the Division of Graduate Education (DGE) might help you think about avenues for getting students in these programs to apply for such support? Also, DGE is currently searching for a new Division Director, so perhaps s/he might be open to new ideas once in place.

    Does any of this make sense to you?

    Jay

     
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    Alexander Rudolph
  • Icon for: Alexander Rudolph

    Alexander Rudolph

    Lead Presenter
    May 16, 2018 | 12:40 p.m.

    Hey Jay,

    I would love to get support from DGE. However, more than half of our program costs are scholarships for undergraduates: the purpose of the program is to identify "diamonds-in-the-rough" among MSI/HSI populations (CSU campuses in this case) and give them the support they need to successfully transition directly into a PhD program (unlike the APS Bridge or the Fisk-Vanderbilt Bridge programs which are Master's-to-PhD Bridge programs), not least of which is scholarship support so the scholars can focus on school full-time (the typical CSU student works 20-30 hours per week to pay for school). Thus, S-STEM is the ideal program, since it is funds UG scholarships. However, it is not clear to me that NSF sees S-STEM as a long-term funding vehicle. Maybe they should.

    What do you think?

    Alex

  • Icon for: Jay Labov

    Jay Labov

    Facilitator
    May 16, 2018 | 02:50 p.m.

    You're right. DGE would not be able to fund something like that. If we're thinking outside the box, I could also envision a program supported by industry that could be akin to the Defense Dept.'s ROTC program. In other words, for some kind of commitment from the student to work for the sponsoring company for x period of time following graduate school, the student would then receive a scholarship to allow her/him to participate in your program. You provide the academic and mentoring support. Like ROTC, there could be some kind of expectation for repaying some of the money of the sponsor if the student doesn't complete your program for reasons other than illness or other mitigating circumstances. Of course the drawback is that much of business thinks in much shorter investment cycles than would be needed here.

    That said, I wonder whether it might be possible to get industry and government to work together on providing the longer-term solution to this problem. For example, I could envision a partnership agreement where the “diamonds in the rough” as you describe them could be identified by your program. Industry sponsors might then provide scholarships for the undergraduate years with the understanding that NSF or other government agencies might then continue that support through the graduate years. I know that many students would be reluctant to commit to working for a company almost 10 years after starting in your program. But there are other programs where industry provides mentoring, summer internships, etc., so that they build relationships with students. Those students may then be more likely to consider employment with that company once they’ve finished their degrees.

    I also could envision a similar program, except that the costs for both undergraduate and graduate education would be borne by the government, with the expectation that the student would then work for the government in some capacity after completing the graduate degree.

    I realize this is all pie in the sky at the moment, but such a program could be a win-win for all concerned if they’re willing to understand the benefits of long-term investments in promising students.

     
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    Alexander Rudolph
  • Icon for: Alexander Rudolph

    Alexander Rudolph

    Lead Presenter
    May 16, 2018 | 07:57 p.m.

    Dear Jay,

    Thank you so much for taking the time to brainstorm about how to solve our sustainability challenge. I agree that some combination of support from government (NSF or state), higher ed institutions (the CSU and UC systems) and corporate, foundation, and even private donors would work best. I don't know if the NSF would consider continuing some level of funding for Cal-Bridge after our current S-STEM grants run out, but I would hope so (in the spirit of the NIH-MARC program). However, we have already begun to work with the CSU and UC administrators supporting our program to explore how we might get some support from the higher ed systems, especially if we expand beyond physics and astronomy.

    I agree that corporate donors could play a key role, especially in funding scholarships. I would hope that some of the corporations that hire lots of PhDs, especially those in California, would consider investing in diversifying their future workforce without requiring explicit commitments, like ROTC. If 8-10 corporations each funded 5 scholarships per year ($50K/year, not a lot for them), we could fund our expanded physics and astronomy program. If we expand into other STEM fields (e.g., CS or engineering) we would need more, but those fields are even more in demand than physics.

    The challenge is getting in front of the right people to make all this happen. We are very interested in working with anyone who can help with those contacts.

    Alex

  • Icon for: Jay Labov

    Jay Labov

    Facilitator
    May 16, 2018 | 08:34 p.m.

    Alex,


    If you're not already aware of the California Council on Science and Technology (CCST), I suggest that you look at their website (http://ccst.us). CCST was set up to advise the state in a way similar to how the National Research Council was chartered to provide advice to the U.S. Government. Take a look at the people who serve on CCST's Board and Council because they represent a broad spectrum of California's higher education, industrial, and government sectors. Some of them may be able to provide advice. You also might contact their Executive Director, Susan Hackwood (her contact is on the website). Feel free to let her know that I suggested that you contact her. I've worked with her for many years on various projects. I hope this is helpful.


    Jay

     
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    Alexander Rudolph
  • May 16, 2018 | 05:28 p.m.

    Sounds like a wonderful program! I'm interested in the "research-validated selection methods" that you use to identify your diamonds in the rough: which non-cognitive abilities do you include, and how do you assess academic potential? Thanks!

     
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    Alexander Rudolph
  • Icon for: Alexander Rudolph

    Alexander Rudolph

    Lead Presenter
    May 16, 2018 | 08:09 p.m.

    Dear Allison,

    Thank you for watching our video. We borrowed a lot of our selection materials from the Fisk-Vanderbilt Master's-to-PhD program which worked with social scientists to develop rubrics for "grit" and other non-cognitive skills. In addition to "grit" or perseverance, these include such skills as positive self-concept, realistic self-appraisal, and preference for long v. short term goals, to name just a few. We assess these skills in an essay question in our application but even more importantly in a highly structured interview using a well-defined rubric.

    We don't have a simple formula for assessing academic potential, but the interviewers are all physics and astronomy faculty with access to the applicants transcript, so we look for applicants who have either a) already shown strength academically, b) shown flashes of ability with understandable reasons for less than perfect results (heavy work hours, personal or family issues), or c) just seem to have something worth investing in that comes out during the interview. We have not GPA cutoff, but we rarely take anyone below a 2.8 GPA coming into the program. We have had multiple cases of a scholar entering with a high 2 or low 3 GPA who, once they no longer have to work, coupled with the intensive academic mentoring they receive, suddenly (or over time) blossom and succeed in matriculating and succeeding in PhD programs. 

    The really good news is that, even though we need more work like yours figuring out how to excite young girls (and URMs) about STEM, there is a significant population of such students already in the college pipeline who are not making it to PhD programs for a variety of reasons that the Cal-Bridge program is trying to address.

    I watched your video on programming for young girls, and am happy to see that early exposure has such a positive effect on their attitudes towards STEM. Have you given any thought to how those experiences can be woven into the grade school curriculum?

     

  • Icon for: Lorena Medina Luna

    Lorena Medina Luna

    Informal Educator
    May 17, 2018 | 12:17 p.m.

    It is so great to see a program that brings together the CSU and UC systems! Growing up in California, and even now when I meet students from California, there is a mentality that one system is better than the other. It is great that this program shows collaboration among the CSU and UC system, that it shows professors from both systems committed to the success of students, and the bridge between the CSU and UC schools as a bridge to continue into higher education. It is also great that you collaborate with community colleges and support students as they transition to CSU and UC! I look forward to seeing the continual progress in your work! 

     
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    Alexander Rudolph
  • Icon for: Tammy Smecker-Hane

    Tammy Smecker-Hane

    Co-Presenter
    May 17, 2018 | 01:11 p.m.

    Yes, indeed! If we want to make sure all of the young students in California who love physics have a path to the Ph D, UC and CSU faculty need to work together to do it. It just so happens that CSU has many more diverse students than UC, one major reason being that CSU's tution and fees are significantly lower than at UC. So this is especially important if we want diversity in our profession. We want to make sure everyone who is talented in physics can go as far as possible in their careers and in pursuing their dreams.

  • Icon for: Rebecca Batchelor

    Rebecca Batchelor

    SOARS Program Director
    May 18, 2018 | 06:30 a.m.

    This is a great video and seems like a very successful program (with many similarities to ours, SOARS, in the atmospheric sciences). I also very much appreciated the discussion in these comments regarding funding and sustainability! Keep up the great work, and I hope we're able to connect in the future.

  • Icon for: Alexander Rudolph

    Alexander Rudolph

    Lead Presenter
    May 18, 2018 | 01:21 p.m.

    Yes, I would love to have a chance to sit down and talk about the successes and challenges that we share. If you are interested, I could come to Boulder some time, maybe in conjunction with the Physics Department (I have many friends in that department). I have also given talks to larger campus communities about my work, and sometimes a department and graduate dean's office can co-sponsor and pay for a visit.

  • Small default profile

    Kelly Colby

    Researcher
    May 18, 2018 | 01:05 p.m.

    Hi Alex. Great video and happy to hear that the program has been so successful! I have two questions regarding the mentorship aspect of this program. First, you note that "intensive" mentoring is one of the characteristics of the program that you have found most helpful. Can you provide a little more detail on what this means? Are there strict guidelines for your mentor/mentee pairs in regards to how often they meet? If so, what are these guidelines?

    I am working with a grant program out of Mercy College that also includes a mentoring component. One of the challenges we've noticed is that throughout the semester it can become increasingly difficult for both our mentors (faculty and peers) and mentees to find the time and space to get together. This is particularly true as we are unable to offer significant scholarships through the program at this time, and our students are often trying to balance school with other obligations such as work. I wonder if you've experienced any similar challenges through your work on this program. If so, my second question is - are there certain strategies you've found helpful to foster a continued relationship between your student participants and their mentors?

    Thanks!

     
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    Alexander Rudolph
  • Icon for: Alexander Rudolph

    Alexander Rudolph

    Lead Presenter
    May 18, 2018 | 01:19 p.m.

    Dear Kelly, 

    We require that each scholar meet with their two mentors (one from their home CSU campus, one from a regional UC campus) at least twice per month. Since the UC mentor is not on campus, the usual thing is for the scholar to go to their CSU mentor's office and then have a videoconference with the UC mentor. Because we are giving the scholars substantial scholarship (up to $10K per year for two years based on financial need), and we have them sign a contract that requires them to keep to that meeting schedule among other requirements (I am happy to give you more details about the contract if you are interested). One thing that helps is that the money allows us to require they stop working more than 10 hours/week to focus on school, but that also frees up time for them to have meetings, etc.

    We also have regional steering committees that meet a few times each semester to review scholar progress. Mentors are required to reach out to the scholars' instructors to get reports on student performance in class, and then write an Academic Progress Review (APR) to the committee that provides another layer of accountability for both scholars and their mentors.

    Having said all that, we still do find challenges getting the mentoring group together often enough. We have had cases where meetings were not happening and we have struggled to fix these problems. In one case we did replace a mentor, and we do have the option of placing scholars on non-academic probation (there is also academic probation based on their grades) which could in principle lead to them being asked to leave the program. We did have a case of a scholar who was missing meetings and very uncommunicative and though we didn't kick him out of the program, I did have a serious talk with him and we made him write a plan to improve his communication as a condition to stay in the program.

    Mentoring is a big challenge, so I am happy to continue this discussion and to hear about what is working (or not) for you.

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    Kelly Colby

    Researcher
    May 18, 2018 | 01:45 p.m.

    Hi again Alex,

    Thank you for your quick and thorough response. While I would not say I am happy to hear you have also experienced some difficulty in coordinating your mentors and mentees, I will admit it is a bit of a relief to know we aren't alone in facing some of these challenges. Wrapping up our first year, my colleagues and I have begun to understand the necessity of implementing greater transparency and structure within the program. We are hoping this will alleviate some of the logistical issues we've noticed so far. As such, we have actually considered using a contract to clearly outline our expectations for all mentors and mentees in the program; I am glad to hear you consider this to be one of the strategies you've found helpful.

    I also appreciate your comment on the use of committees and review procedures to oversee the mentoring process. While our program does not seem to have the physical reach yours does (i.e., we operate primarily out of a single college), I think organizing and implementing a regularly scheduled, formal review process can also be helpful for us.

    I very much appreciate the feedback. As we reflect on what has and has not worked this year and move into planning for the next year over the course of the summer I would love to be able to reach out to you to continue this discussion, if possible.

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    Alexander Rudolph

    Lead Presenter
    May 18, 2018 | 02:14 p.m.

    Absolutely, feel free to reach out any time. My e-mail is alrudolph@cpp.edu.

  • Icon for: Tammy Smecker-Hane

    Tammy Smecker-Hane

    Co-Presenter
    May 18, 2018 | 02:38 p.m.

    One thing I've been advocating is that we keep better track of what happens during the mentoring meetings by supplying the mentors with a google drive site where they can write up short notes about the meetings, include dates and issues discussed. I'm not only the co-directory of Cal-Bridge, but I've been a mentor twice, too. One of the things I found helpful was keeping notes on-line that I could access from any computer. Its especially useful when I'm traveling for work. I would be very helpful to a new mentor when they have to step in for a mentor who, for instance, goes on sabbatical. It could also provide us with data on how much mentoring is happening.

    If money were no object, we could actually make good use of a "client management system" like businesses use. You know when you call a company's support line and Person 1 takes your info and types it in then connects you to Person 2 and Person 2 can read what you just said to Person 1. That way anyone interacting with a certain scholar could input notes and important info, and every one involved with that scholar would be able to access them easily.

    I wonder if anyone has used something similar for mentoring?

     
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    Alexander Rudolph
  • Icon for: Alexander Rudolph

    Alexander Rudolph

    Lead Presenter
    May 18, 2018 | 03:01 p.m.

    Hey Tammy, we are actively looking into a solution that would include features exactly as you suggest. We haven't reached the point of figuring out how to pay for it, but there is some indication that our campus IT department might cover the costs to mitigate FERPA risks. I will be reporting on this at our joint statewide steering committee meeting on May 29.

    I just realized we are using this video showcase to have an internal discussion about Cal-Bridge! :)

  • Icon for: Alexander Rudolph

    Alexander Rudolph

    Lead Presenter
    May 18, 2018 | 03:02 p.m.

    I would reiterate Tammy's question: if anyone has implemented an on-line mentoring tool, we would love to hear about it!

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    Comas Haynes

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 19, 2018 | 05:19 p.m.

    Nice to see the two Cal systems working together and provide a significant impact "one student at a time."

     
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    Alexander Rudolph
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    Alexander Rudolph

    Lead Presenter
    May 20, 2018 | 01:00 a.m.

    Thanks for your comment. That aspect of the program is one of the things we are most proud of!

  • Icon for: Domenic Scorzetti

    Domenic Scorzetti

    Graduate Student
    May 20, 2018 | 11:18 p.m.

    Hello Cal-Bridge Team,

    This looks like an exciting opportunity and a great program to help expand the reach of STEM further into underrepresented groups. I had a few questions if you would be willing to consider them. First, I noticed the program is recruiting for undergraduates approaching their last two years. I wonder if the scope of the bridge might expand earlier in the college experience as many students are at risk of changing majors when having a difficult time with introductory courses and still trying to support themselves financially. Similarly, the mentoring aspect as well as the financial component I imagine would help the kind of students you are looking for earlier in their college lives. Are there other programs in place that do this?

    I also read in an earlier post here that you assess candidates' level of "grit" and other non-cognitive skills. Could you please elaborate on that? Do you know if there are any parallels to the high school level (I teach students in grades 10 - 12 who come from these underrepresented groups)?

    Finally, as the program is focusing on underrepresented groups, is this specifically a racial component or are you also trying to encourage more women into STEM? 

    Thank you and I hope your program finds continued success and funding!

     
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    Alexander Rudolph
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    Alexander Rudolph

    Lead Presenter
    May 21, 2018 | 11:20 a.m.

    Dear Domenic,

    Thank you for your comment. To answer your questions:

    1) While there is a need to address underrepresented students leaving the STEM pipeline at all levels, we observed that the last two years of undergraduate university seem to be a significant stumbling block for those who wanted to go on for a PhD. Most other Bridge programs focus on Master's-to-PhD bridges so we are already starting earlier than them. We are having a great deal of success with our targeted approach and want to be careful not to try to do everything with one program. There are many great programs that are working on keeping first and second year university students in STEM.

    2) The terms "grit" or perseverance are one type of non-congnitive attribute that people talk about. Others include self-efficacy and growth mindset. This last one is an idea that grew out of the work of Carol Dweck at Stanford and she has studied this phenomenon at all ages from grade school through college, so it definitely applied to high school students. I highly recommend you read her book, "Growth Mindset" for more information.

    3) We consider women an underrepresented group in STEM (they are only 20% of physics PhDs and 30% of astronomy PhDs), along with underrepresented minorities, first-generation college students, LGBTQ+, students with disabilities, etc.

    I hope you find these answers helpful.

  • Further posting is closed as the showcase has ended.