Among our outreach activities we are also dedicated to recruiting and mentoring undergraduate students in plant science research. The Freshman Research in Plant Science (FRIPS) program is a new initiative implemented during the 2010-11 school year and designed to recruit freshman students to plant science research. Multiple faculty mentors invite FRIPS students to work in their labs for 8-12 hours/week during the academic year. Students’ responsibilities included making solutions, making and characterizing artificial liposomes and proteoliposomes; purifying proteins; transforming bacteria, conducting PCR, restriction enzyme digests, and gel electrophoresis; assisting with genetic screenings; and an array of other laboratory duties. Students also attend weekly FRIPS meetings led by a senior graduate student which engaged students in discussions, presentations, and activities designed to enhance experiences with plant research. The students shown in the picture with Dr. Stacey are those witin the first cohort in 2010 and 2011. Also shown, second from the left in the first row) is Amy Repoglie, the Ph.D. student, who helped with the FRIPS program.
Student evaluations of the FRIPS program have been uniformly positive. For example: “My participation in the FRIPS program has helped me gain perspective to the research side of being [at] a land-grant university. It also served as a confidence booster, helping me keep my head above water with all of the stress that comes along with college. Working in the lab during my first year of college really helped me to think deeper into the topics I was learning in class to show the real world applications.” Another student stated: “It’s definitely helped me to become involved in research in ways I wouldn’t otherwise be able to—I feel that PIs considered you more qualified beyond “dish duty” and you can immediately begin to learn about what’s going on and techniques research labs use. I also feel FRIPS helped me learn some of the “basics” I would otherwise feel embarrassed to ask someone in my lab about. Finally, I think FRIPS helped me explore a field in research to help me fully decide if research was something I wanted to commit myself to.”
Faculty evaluations of FRIPS have also been very positive and they appreciative of excitement and enthusiasm the students brought into their labs. The FRIPS program is designed to support students only during their freshmen year with the anticipated goal of having faculty mentors continue supporting the students beyond the first year. The FRIPS program has continued since 2010 and we will soon induct our third cohort. We have also received inquiries from other Universities who appeared interested in duplicated the program on their own campuses. Application material for the FRIPS program can be found at http://undergradresearch.missouri.edu/programs-jobs/programs/FRIPS.php