UF, Santa Fe College to launch program for graduating more underrepresented students in sciences

December 1, 2015
Steve Orlando

Santa Fe College and the University of Florida will receive an award of up to $1.4 million over five years from the National Institutes of Health for a new program aimed at increasing the number of underrepresented students who transfer from Santa Fe College to UF and graduate with bachelor’s degrees in biomedical and behavioral science-related disciplines.

The new program is led at UF by David Julian, an associate professor of biology, under NIH grant R25GM115298

The new SF2UF Bridge to Baccalaureate Program targets students who are underrepresented in majors related to the life sciences at Santa Fe College. It is one of more than 40 other Bridges to the Baccalaureate programs funded by NIH’s National Institute of General Medical Sciences to increase the diversity of community college students who go on to research careers in the biomedical sciences.

“Santa Fe College is well known for providing access to educational opportunity, including being a gateway for students to the University of Florida,” said Santa Fe College Provost Ed Bonahue. “This grant will strengthen both of our institutions and will help ensure that the students who transfer represent the rich diversity of our community and state.”

UF Provost Joe Glover echoed Bonahue regarding the benefit to students and the institutions.

“Santa Fe and UF have a decades-long track record as partners in helping students reach their goals, and the SF2UF Bridge Program is a wonderful new chapter in that relationship. This program is an important step toward increasing access to higher education,” Glover said.

Julian said more undergraduate students transfer to UF from Santa Fe College than from all other community colleges combined, “but within the biomedical and behavioral science-related disciplines, under-represented students at SF are half as likely as non-under-represented students to transfer to UF. SF2UF will increase the opportunities for our advisers, science faculty and students to work together to strengthen the bridge between our institutions, and to help transfer students hit the ground running when they arrive at UF.”

Beatriz Gonzalez, a professor of biology at Santa Fe College and the college’s SF2UF Bridge Program director, said, “With this exciting program, SF will build a new Biology and Chemistry Tutoring Center, purchase new equipment for our courses in science and behavior, and create a pipeline for our students to become directly involved in biomedical and behavioral research at UF.”

Over the course of the five-year program, Gonzalez said, 48 SF students will receive training in biomedical research techniques at UF and then be employed as laboratory assistants with NIH-funded faculty researchers at UF, both while they are students at SF but also continuing after they transfer to UF.

Funding for these students will also be provided by $200,000 from the UF College of Medicine and $80,000 from the UF colleges of Agricultural and Life Sciences and Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Joel Brendemuhl, associate dean for academic programs in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, said the program will identify underrepresented students to succeed in STEM fields.

“We’re hoping to provide a seamless transition for students working toward their baccalaureate degrees to then move on to graduate school,” he said. “Hopefully, some of these students will in turn become faculty members in STEM fields themselves.”

UF College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean David E. Richardson said, “We are pleased to partner with Santa Fe in a program that will help every student achieve his or her academic aspirations.”

Santa Fe College students can begin applying for acceptance to the SF2UF Bridge Program in January. Application instructions and additional information about the new program are available at http://www.sfcollege.edu/sf2ufbridge/.

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