Two Boise State University students and a staff member will take part in the 2022-2023 Students Transforming Through Research (STR) Program. The STR Program is a competitive application-based professional development opportunity for teams consisting of a campus representative and up to two undergraduate students. These teams will participate in a six-month program aimed at developing their communication and advocacy skills. These skills will empower them to convey the power of the high-impact practices of undergraduate research, scholarship, and creative inquiry experience to diverse stakeholder groups, according to a Council on Undergraduate Research press release.
Boise State students Melissa Ogle and Stacey Pedraza will be joined by Nico Diaz, senior student initiatives coordinator with the Institute for Inclusive and Transformative Scholarship, as participants in the program. They have the distinction of being the only representatives from Idaho’s higher learning institutions among the 124 undergraduate researchers and 75 campus representatives from 62 colleges and universities across the nation who were accepted to the program’s inaugural class.
Ogle and Pedraza first learned about the program through their participation in the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation Scholars Program (LSAMP) at Boise State. LSAMP is a federally funded program that promotes underrepresented student population participation in the sciences by connecting students to research and experiential learning opportunities. Both students participated in research projects led by Boise State faculty over the summer through LSAMP’s traditional local programming prior to learning of this new opportunity to expand their skill sets. Diaz said the STR program’s focus on communication and advocacy will be a key building block to lay on those early foundations.
“This is the first time they are offering a program like this,” Diaz said. “It is a little more robust in terms of professional development and helping students learn better ways to communicate their research.”
Pedraza, who majors in biology with a cellular, molecular and biomedical emphasis, wants to pursue a doctorate in cellular and molecular biology but was not always as certain about her future in academia. She has participated in research projects across a range of disciplines but says that is exactly how she gained the long-term focus she now enjoys.
“Research has helped me through all these different stages and helped me really define what I want to study for the rest of my life,” she said.
Ogle is a post-baccalaureate student working toward medical school who said she did not participate in research during her first undergraduate experience because she found it intimidating.
“I think a lot of people feel like that,” she said. “It’s behind closed doors. Who knows what is going on in those labs, right? I think it’s very important to demystify that for people.”
Ogle has since learned first-hand through LSAMP’s summer research program how different disciplines working together can positively impact research by analyzing and addressing questions from different perspectives.
“My goal with the STR program is to learn how to communicate the importance of the interdisciplinary nature of research,” she said.
The program will convene Oct. 23 and continue through April. Near the end of the program, Pedraza and Ogle will also have an opportunity to present to a member of the U.S. Congress and staff members. The participants’ involvement in the program supports key strategic goals of Boise State University’s Blueprint for Success, including improving educational access and student success, advancing research and creative activity, and trailblazing programs and partnerships.
To learn more about how you can get involved, visit the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation webpage.