In this paper we present a model for a structured, rigorous, undergraduate research program which has been developed and successfully implemented for six years at the School of Biological and Medical Sciences at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) for students interested in pursuing long-term independent research experiences. The Research Scholars Program (RSP) includes crucial elements of preparation, presentation, and publication into the undergraduate research experience and helps students meet the National Science Foundation’s five “Undergraduate Competencies” that are crucial for scientific literacy.

Since 2005 between five and thirteen students per year have successfully completed RSP (69 to date). Upon college graduation, more than half of these students enrolled in graduate or medical school at a Top American Research University. Current students, alumni and faculty were surveyed about their experiences: “Reading and critiquing scientific literature”, “Learning to work independently”, “Preparing and giving oral presentations” and “Writing initial research proposals and final papers” were considered highly valuable components of the program.

Design and implementation of such a program does not require significant additional departmental or institutional financial support but does require resources in terms of faculty leadership and mentorship. Thus, RSP could easily be modified or adapted to fit into any undergraduate college setting and could be expanded into other STEM disciplines. In this paper we discuss the mission, structure, components and challenges of the RIT Research Scholars Program and present data supporting the benefits of this program to participating undergraduate students.

Date of creation, presentation, or exhibit



This is a conference paper presented at the 3rd International Conference on Education, Research and Innovation (ICERI), November 15-17, 2010 in Madrid, Spain.

This paper is reproduced with permission from ICERI.

Document Type

Conference Paper

Department, Program, or Center

Thomas H. Gosnell School of Life Sciences (COS)


RIT – Main Campus