UCI News

UCI receives grant to support 30 HBCU students in Summer Institute in Neuroscience

Center for Neurobiology of Learning and Memory to partner with Delaware State U.

July 28, 2021
UCI receives grant to support 30 HBCU students in Summer Institute in Neuroscience
“By placing HBCU students in faculty labs that value diversity and culturally-aware mentorship, UCI will facilitate a high-caliber research and mentorship experience for these students to explore careers in neuroscience,” says UCI associate professor of pediatrics and program principal investigator Dr. Autumn Ivy (right), pictured with Manuella Oliveira Yassa, director of outreach and education for the CNLM and training director for the UC-HBCU program. Steve Zylius/UCI

Irvine, Calif., July 28, 2021 — The UCI Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory has been awarded a UC-HBCU Initiative Summer Research and Graduate Admissions Pathways Grant from the UC Office of the President to sponsor a partnership with Delaware State University, one of 107 Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the U.S..

The three-year, $600,000 grant will support 30 students from HBCUs to participate in the Summer Institute in Neuroscience, an intensive, paid residential research training and professional development program for undergraduate students interested in neuroscience. The grant will also fund year-around scientific and professional development activities, including a joint virtual seminar series and continued mentorship.

“The CNLM’s Summer Institute in Neuroscience provides a robust structure for training high-achieving students from diverse backgrounds, and we are excited to bring in students from DSU,” said Dr. Autumn Ivy, assistant professor of pediatrics at UCI, a CNLM Fellow and principal investigator of the UC-HBCU program. “By placing HBCU students in faculty labs that value diversity and culturally-aware mentorship, UCI will facilitate a high-caliber research and mentorship experience for these students to explore careers in neuroscience.”

Each year, HBCU students will be joined by an additional 10 students who are funded by a Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) grant from the National Science Foundation and the Department of Defense. The students will live on the UCI campus for 8 weeks each summer and will conduct cutting-edge research in CNLM laboratories.

“We aim to provide a holistic experience for the students where they will gain the scientific and professional development skills necessary to thrive in an environment where they feel welcomed, valued and supported,” said Manuella Oliveira Yassa, director of outreach and education for the CNLM and training director for the UC-HBCU program.

The University of California is committed to attracting and graduating scholars who reflect the communities of the world. However, at the graduate level, Black students are under-represented – the five-year average for enrollment in UC academic doctoral programs is 3.1 percent. The UC-HBCU Initiative, funded by the UC Office of the President, invests in building relationships and active collaborations between UC faculty and faculty and students at HBCUs. The Summer Institute in Neuroscience was one of only seven UC proposals awarded funding in 2021 and the only one awarded to UC Irvine this year.

“This multi-year partnership between UCI and Delaware State University fully aligns with UCI’s Black Thriving Initiative. Launched in August 2020, this university-wide initiative aspires to make UCI the nation’s foremost destination for Black people to thrive in higher education,” said Douglas Haynes, UCI’s vice chancellor for equity, diversity and inclusion. “In broadening pathways to graduate education in neuroscience, the Summer Institute will contribute to transforming the professoriate and knowledge workforce of the future.”

About the Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory: Established in 1983 by the UC Regents, with James L. McGaugh as its founding director, the CNLM is the first research institute in the world dedicated to the interdisciplinary study of the fundamental brain mechanisms of learning and memory. It is credited with numerous seminal discoveries about how memory works and is recognized as a global leader in the area. Led by Michael Yassa, the CNLM is home to more than 120 faculty scientists at UCI and elsewhere. The center has also developed a number of successful training programs for neuroscience education at all levels and is deeply committed to enhancing diversity and inclusion in academia. For more information on the CNLM, visit cnlm.uci.edu.

About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is the youngest member of the prestigious Association of American Universities and is ranked among the nation’s top 10 public universities by U.S. News & World Report. The campus has produced three Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Howard Gillman, UCI has more than 36,000 students and offers 222 degree programs. It’s located in one of the world’s safest and most economically vibrant communities and is Orange County’s second-largest employer, contributing $7 billion annually to the local economy and $8 billion statewide. For more on UCI, visit www.uci.edu.

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