Professor mails science-themed kits to incoming STEM Students

June 26, 2020

Spider Pride

When biology professor Shannon Jones realized the global pandemic would prevent her from bringing students to campus this summer for University of Richmond’s signature URISE program experience, she found a way to send science to them.

From beakers and pipettes to summer reading material, Jones, longtime coordinator of the URISE program, put together 24 kits containing everything a young scientist might need to begin exploring their fields of study.

URISE, which stands for University of Richmond Integrated Science Experience and is a part of UR’s Integrated Inclusive Science Program, is a pre-first-year program that focuses on skill development, provides authentic research experiences, and builds a community of support for selected students before starting classes in the fall.

The program received the 2018 Inspiring Programs in STEM Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, and has served as a model for other high-ed institutions.

“These students are from all around the world and many represent backgrounds that have been historically underrepresented in STEM fields,” Jones said. “Our summer program is so important in introducing them to our science programs, the lab, each other, and their faculty, and we wanted to figure out a way to still have an enriching experience.”

Jones and additional science faculty are also hosting virtual sessions with the incoming first-year students out of their labs, and their efforts have paid off. 

“Though there are some obvious barriers, such as not being able to collaborate in person,” said URISE student Daisy Brooks, “I think completing the sessions virtually has been a great way to get to know new people — building connections with other students and faculty before arriving on campus and making it less daunting.”