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Student Mentoring at UCR Gets Richer

National Science Foundation Grants $561,000 to New Mentoring Program in Engineering

MY BEST @ UCR program offers year-round mentoring in biological engineering

(September 25, 2007)

Assistant Professor Sharon WalkerEnlarge

Assistant Professor Sharon Walker

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (—- UC Riverside engineering professors Sharon L. Walker, Victor Rodgers and Valentine Vullev received a $561,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to fund the MY BEST @ UCR program.

Over the next five years, the MY BEST @ UCR program will provide six undergraduate students each year from Riverside Community College and UCR with research experiences and mentoring designed to encourage them to complete bachelor’s degrees in biology and related fields, and to go on to pursue doctoral degrees.

"Usually, the NSF provides funds for summer programs," says Walker, UCR's assistant professor and the John Babbage Chair in Environmental Engineering in the Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering. "This grant will allow the students to continue to focus on their lab research throughout the year and have real ownership of the project."

Nine UCR faculty, including Walker; Rodgers, a professor of Bioengineering; and Vullev, an assistant professor of Bioengineering, will participate in the interdisciplinary program representing the bioengineering, cell biology and biochemistry disciplines. "During the spring, this program will recruit from a highly diverse student population at UC Riverside and Riverside Community College campuses. While the emphasis will be on reaching underrepresented students in biological sciences and engineering, all students will be eligible and are encouraged to apply," notes Walker.

MY BEST @ UCR students will initiate their research with intense training during the summer, and will be provided research assistantships throughout the academic year on a part-time basis. In addition to lab work, program participants will receive tailored mentoring on subjects such as how to apply to graduate school, how to give presentations, and how to write good scientific articles. The students will present the results of their research at an annual UCR symposium and the annual Southern California Conference on Undergraduate Research, where they will meet student peers and recruiters from graduate schools.

"We believe that through undergraduate research training, we can develop highly motivated students who will be well prepared for pursuing graduate education and will lead towards greater diversity and representation in the nation’s science and technology workforce, with highly qualified and experienced individuals," says Walker.
Professor Victor RodgersEnlarge

Professor Victor Rodgers

Assistant Professor Valentine VullevEnlarge

Assistant Professor Valentine Vullev

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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