Fast-Track to Biology

Fast-Track to Biology Research Scholarship Program
A special opportunity for alumni and friends
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Richard Lu, sophomore Biology major and research assistant working in the labs.

FALL 2014

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Every year Georgia Tech is awarded more than $750 million in sponsored research dollars, which puts us in the top three research universities in the southeast. To enhance the educational experience of our undergraduates, we leverage this research activity by involving undergraduates in research labs as early as the spring of their freshman year. With about 400 majors and 35 faculty, the School of Biology is able to place about 70 percent of our majors with research mentors who guide their individual research projects. This one of the strengths of our program and we would like to amplify its impact on our ability to attract and retain the very best students to Biology at Georgia Tech.

Currently about 275-350 first-time freshmen are accepted as Biology majors each Fall at Georgia Tech. Only about 35 percent of these actually enroll. If we could increase our yield by only 25 percent, we could substantially increase undergraduate enrollment in Biology and improve the quality of our freshman class. We propose to offer 10-15 scholarships to highly qualified applicants in hopes of persuading them to come to Georgia Tech and major in Biology. These offers will likely have maximum impact if we make them to students accepted to Georgia Tech, but not yet committed to enroll. We would call these students “Fast-Track to Biology Research Scholars” and they would receive stipends of $1500 to work about 15 hr/week in the research lab of a Biology faculty in the spring or summer semester of their freshman year.

We are seeking to raise funds from Biology alumni and friends to support this program. These students would get assistance from academic advisors in finding labs to mentor them. It is our hope that this research experience would kick off a 3 year relationship with a mentor that would culminate in an honors thesis based on the student’s research. Such a research experience often results in students being included as an author on scientific publications, presenting at scientific meetings, and building a professional identity in students to do meaningful science. The mentor relationship also supplies students with strong reference letter writers who can comment authoritatively on the students’ lab skills, work habits, and analytical ability. This will serve them well regardless of career path.

The Fast-Track to Biology Research Scholarships provide an exceptional giving opportunity for alumni and other friends wishing to help us improve our ability to attract and retain top students in Biology. Such scholarships are available for naming by interested parties. Benefits to donors include knowledge that they are full partners in supporting excellence in scholarship and research, and play an active role in advancing the profile of the School of Biology at Georgia Tech. If you would like to sponsor a Fast-Track to Biology Research Scholarship, please send a $1500 check payable to the Georgia Tech Foundation to the Biology Financial Manager, Nena Gray, 310 Ferst Drive, Atlanta, GA 30332-0230. Please indicate whether you would like your name associated with the scholarship. If you would like to discuss the program further and how you might contribute, please contact Dr. Terry Snell, Chair of the School of Biology.