RIVERSIDE, CA - The University of California, Riverside (UCR) officially kicked off its Research in Science & Engineering (RISE) program today, with 97 students attending the 2023 research cohort orientation.
Established at UCR in 2010, RISE is a 10-week program designed for rising sophomores, juniors, incoming transfers, and seniors. Participants work under the supervision of a faculty mentor on a cutting-edge research project from mid-June to late August.
The program features faculty mentoring, professional development opportunities, and an immersive experience in the UCR science community, culminating in an undergraduate research symposium on August 30.
For Marcie Toops '24, a Microbiology major and veteran RISE peer mentor, the symposium is her favorite part of the RISE experience. She recalls marveling at how far her 2022 cohort came during the 10-week period.
"I really love seeing the students build up to their symposium presentations," she says. "By the end, I was like a proud mama at their symposium presentations! I'm looking forward to the whole journey, but especially that symposium presentation at the end."
"It's seeing people that are brand-new to [research at UCR] getting to experience it for the first time," adds Jonn Perna '24, an Environmental Studies major who also mentored last year's RISE cohort. "I loved watching my mentees get their awards for doing their symposium presentations, so I can't wait to do it again this summer!"
The goal of RISE is to increase the number of outstanding students from diverse backgrounds to become acquainted with scientific research. Additionally, RISE aims to increase the population of students who pursue graduate and/or professional degrees. The program also provides an opportunity for participants to develop a competitive profile with which to advance their educational and academic careers and goals.
According to program manager Noel Salunga, Assistant Director of Student Success at the College of Natural & Agricultural Sciences (CNAS), RISE works to help students develop an affinity with science that will serve them well throughout their time at UCR and beyond.
"Some of these students have experience [with research], others are still developing it," he says. "One of our goals is to have participants grow in their identities as students and scientists and go on to be change agents in their community."
Liz Jimenez, CNAS Transfer Success Coordinator, believes the program's main benefits are helping students make connections with faculty, and receiving mentorship from UCR students who have participated in research projects. She notes that many of the RISE peer mentors have previous research experience.
"In addition to that, for the incoming transfers, it's a great way for them to make those connections early on to get them acclimated for when they start at UCR in the fall," she explains. "By the time they graduate, they're going to have robust research under their belt."
The program requires a full-time commitment from each student for its entire duration. Participants are expected to work up to 40 hours/week and must be available Monday through Friday from 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM in addition to evening/weekend hours.
In addition to their research projects, participants will also attend mixers, check-in meetings, and special presentations on everything from how to conduct ethical research to utilizing research resources in UCR libraries. Participants also receive training on how to read scientific articles, write research abstracts, and give oral scientific presentations.
Approximately 40 students will give oral presentations during the RISE symposium. All participants will also conduct poster presentations highlighting their summer research projects.
As excited as he is to continue working with the 2023 cohort, Noel is also looking forward to the transformational impact the program will have on future generations of student researchers as well.
"Your student success isn't just dependent on grades, but also enrichment opportunities that happen through meaningful relationships, research, and connecting with your fellow peers," he says. "Your success here at UCR will be elevated through RISE."