Partnership for Research and Education Materials (PREM)

University of Puerto Rico Humacao Partnership for Research and Education In Material Sciences
State
Puerto Rico
Academic Level
Baccalaureate
Issue Area
Academic Program
Key Personnel
Program Focus
Pathway/Pipeline,
Undergraduate Research

Overview

The mission of the PREM is to advance knowledge and diversity in materials science for Latino students. They provide students with collaborative research and education efforts in the areas of multifunctional nanodevices from optoelectronic materials and nanoscale interactions of macromolecules at soft and hard interfaces with a multidisciplinary group of researchers from UPR and PENN.

Program Description

PREM is a collaboration between the University of Puerto Rico at Humacao (UPRH) and the University of Pennsylvania (PENN). A diverse group of faculty researchers (physics, chemistry, mathematics, computer science and engineering) from three undergraduate campuses of UPR (Humacao, Cayey and Bayamon) and PENN work in multidisciplinary teams with significant participation of high school (HS) and undergraduate students. The primary goal of the education and workforce development program is to attract more Latinos to STEM fields as early as possible in their studies and take them to the next educational level. The program It begins with outreach events for the general- public, and continues with open houses, workshops, and curricula enhancement for K-12 students and teachers. To increase diversity in STEM, PREM seeks high school students from low-income families, students who will be the first generation in their families to attend college, students who live in isolated rural areas, and women. These HS students participate in summer research experiences. PENN provides access to research instrumentation, computational resources (remote) and library resources. They also host a Summer research program for UPR faculty and undergraduate students. PENN faculty, staff, and students (beyond the 10 participants) visit UPR several times every year for research symposia, workshops, talks, andoutreach activities. PENN faculty in the program collaborate in the day to day research activities and student mentoring.

Outcome

Since 2004, over 38,000 students and teachers have participated in educational and outreach activities, including two large science exhibitions brought to Puerto Rico by PREM.

Approximately, 50 students engaged in research in each year of the program. Of high school students that participate in summer research, 169 graduated from High School and just under 50% continued to UPR Humacao, with many others pursuing STEM degrees at other institutions. Of undergraduate students, 112 out of the 114 have graduated with bachelor’s degrees.

In 2016-2018, 67% of research publications and 56% of research presentations had undergraduates and HS students as co-authors. Sixty-two of PREM undergraduates continued graduate studies; of these, 34 graduated with MSs (21) and Phds (13), and 33 PREM students are currently enrolled in graduate school. Despite challenges confronted because of Hurricane María, 9 PREM students will begin graduate studies in Fall 2018.