The University of Kentucky is one of 37 research schools receiving grant dollars to help retain science and math students. UK is getting almost two million dollars from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
Biology Department Chair Vincent Cassone says preparation for the rigors of college science and math start in high school. "For a biology, or chemistry, or physics major, if a student is not ready to take college calculus, that student automatically takes an extra year to complete his degree," said Cassone. "And so, we need to be able to get students ready to hit the college campus with their full speed. Otherwise, they are gonna fall behind."
There are five components to the project aimed at recruitment, preparation and retention of STEM majors. Those include a pre-semester fast track course and team-based summer research.
The Lexington school expects 500 biology students - the largest number ever - to start class this fall. Mark Kornbluh, Dean of UK's College of Arts and Sciences, says many will arrive on campus with ambitions aimed at the medical field. "Out of those entering 500 students, probably four-fifths of them want to be medical doctors. Most of them will not end up going into medicine. So, one of the goals of STEMCats is to show students there's a wide range of exciting careers in science," said Kornbluh.
The five-year STEMCats program also includes a pre-semester boot camp and residence in a living learning community.