Core Experience and Activities
Participants in the Postbaccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP) are known as PREP Scholars and partake in an introduction to research as scientific apprentices.
As a PREP Scholar, you'll participate as a paid technician and complete other PREP activities for the remainder of your effort. You will be matched with a funded investigator in an area of your interest to experience research firsthand. Other developmental activities will be tailored to your unique needs, including laboratory and technology training, formal coursework, written and oral communication skills, and test-taking workshops.
You can also expect to:
- Take specific coursework tailored to your needs
- Have tuition fully covered
- Participate in departmental seminars and journal clubs
- Meet weekly to present your work to each other and your mentors
- Complete a course in the Responsible Conduct of Research
- Maintain regular contact with the Program Coordinator
- Post progress on the PREP Scholar's Hub
- Apply to graduate programs with coaching on personal statements and interviewing
- Become a member of the Minority Graduate Student Organization (MGSO) at CWRU, which fosters development through seminars, meetings, and social activities
Requirements for the PREP application include:
- Take Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), if appropriate
- Prepared personal statements
- Selected graduate programs
- Identification of skills for success in graduate school and formulation an individual development plan
Once accepted to the program, PREP Scholars begin coursework around July 1. The first objective is assessment of personal goals and research interests, then mini-rotations are used in selecting a research lab. Individual development plans are prepared in consultation with the program director.
During these orientation sessions, the unique needs and goals of each Scholar will be identified. Specifically, the following questions will be addressed:
- What additional coursework is needed to augment your record?
- Do you have any new areas of interest?
- What other unique issues need to be addressed to ensure optimal preparation?
- Can mini-rotations help identify your research mentor for the year?
PREP Scholars continue to meet weekly as a group with PREP leadership throughout the year.
Goals and Program Objectives
Primary objectives for PREP include:
- Socialize scholars to the research environment: Direct laboratory research and mentoring conveying the culture of science and its rewards, increasing understanding of the research process, and increasing identity with the profession.
- Improve academic preparedness: Science or math graduate coursework, tutoring, and workshops address educational needs.
- Provide a foundation for student success: Access to a diverse and supportive network of student groups and programs fosters a sense of community and provides additional avenues of connection.
- Enhance professional development and communication and technology skills: Participation in research forums institutionally and nationally and workshops on communication and technology literacies will supply the future tools needed for success.
Research Symposia and Meetings
Research experience is key to the PREP and is likely to produce results! Scholars have the opportunity to present their research and attend national meetings, including Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS). Following each trip, all Scholars attend a debriefing meeting where attendees will summarize highlights of the research presented.
Progress of the PREP Scholars is evaluated on an ongoing basis by the program director, the program coordinator, and the PREP Steering Committee. PREP program activities increase both the Scholars' preparedness and likelihood to pursue biomedical graduate work. A variety of methods are used to provide ongoing feedback:
- Weekly meetings, courses, grades, attendance, and test preparation
- Baseline evaluation at the start of the program and exit survey with annual follow-up
- Progress report submissions every six months
A final measure of evaluation is the letter of recommendation for Scholars who choose to pursue doctoral study. The program director will write differentiated letters of recommendation that clearly assess Scholars' achievements and promise. This letter is completed after review of the mentor's evaluation of research skills and interests, discussion of future goals, and grades.