This summer (2016) the Verduzco laboratory will host participants from REU, REHSS, and RET programs. Verduzco is a co-PI on an REU program focused on providing community college students with summer research experiences. Community college students are drawn from the Houston area. Verduzco will also host a high-school student and teacher, both of whom will work on an independent materials-related research project for 6 weeks.
Community college students represent a rich pool of potential scientists and engineers. Community colleges educate 50 % of all students in higher education and 20 % of US engineers start their education in community colleges. Less affluent students and minority students, groups that are underrepresented in the scientific workforce, are increasingly served by local two-year community colleges. However, the rates for successfully transferring to a four year university and completing a degree are low, and only a small fraction of community college students pursue advanced STEM degrees or careers in STEM. The reasons for this may include a lack of a clear path towards advanced degrees or the lack of proper mentoring. Programs that increase participation of community college students would directly impact the participation of minority and underpriviledged students in science.