Julie & Keshanti_crop

NSF summer scholars in the Division of MCB (from left): Julie Dominguez and Keshanti Tidwell

The Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences (MCB) had the pleasure of hosting two NSF summer scholars this summer – Julie Dominguez and Keshanti Tidwell. As we described at the start of their internship, these two outstanding master’s and undergraduate students were selected from a pool of candidates for placement in MCB. They each designed and completed an analytical project to identify historical trends in MCB broader impacts and the distribution of MCB funding across programs. Both projects involved quantitative analysis of budget, proposal, award, and/or program generated data. The summer scholars presented their findings at MCB and NSF-wide talks, proposing future steps, additional research questions, and offering insightful analysis.

While completing their projects, each summer scholar took advantage of numerous professional development opportunities, including: MCB meetings, events, and workshops; Washington DC career fairs and tours; and a series of question and answer (Q&A) sessions with NSF employees hosted by MCB. The Q&A sessions offered summer scholars a glimpse into potential career paths and future internship or fellowship opportunities. Each intern actively participated in events sponsored by the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities National Internship Program (HACU) and Quality Education for Minorities Network (QEM). They both have plans to follow up their internship experience by attending a national conference. In addition to the friendship, support, and guidance received from all MCB program and administrative staff, the NSF summer scholars in MCB were mentored by Genetic Mechanisms Program Director Dr. Bill Eggleston, Acting Operations Manager Dr. Reyda Gonzalez-Nieves, and Biologist Dr. Stacy Kelley.

The following are descriptions of the analytical projects the NSF summer scholars completed in MCB.

DominguezJulie Dominguez has a master’s degree from Texas Tech Health Science Center in El Paso, Texas. For her internship, Julie analyzed the distribution of funding for all MCB awards made in 2011, 2013, and 2015, classifying each by MCB program, geographical location, and type of institution. Julie determined the type of institution, using the 2015 Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education framework, and grouped all awards by institution type. Julie also determined the number of proposals MCB received in 2015 so that she could calculate the success rate (determined by the ratio of awards to proposals) for each category of institution. Julie also did a geographical analysis comparing 2015 submission rates for the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) states and non-EPSCoR states in a geographical analysis. Her work will guide future MCB outreach efforts.

KeshantiKeshanti Tidwell, a rising junior at Jarvis Christian College in Hawkins, Texas, analyzed broader impacts (BIs) activities in MCB awards made in 2010 and 2015. Keshanti wanted to determine if there are trends in the types of BI activities proposed and in panel reviewers’ perceptions of their quality. She tackled this complex project using two methods. First, Keshanti read through descriptions of BIs from a random sample of proposal summaries, panel summaries, and review analyses from each MCB program and identified one keyword that summarized the review panel’s overall opinion of BI quality. She organized all keywords in a scale and linked each keyword to the corresponding BI activities proposed, looking for trends between the types of BIs proposed and the keyword position in the scale. Secondly, Keshanti focused on the frequency of the types of BI activities proposed in 2010 and 2015 for each MCB program, looking for changes over time. Her work will inform the Division of historical trends in BIs, which will also influence outreach efforts focused on Broader Impacts.

Please join MCB in congratulating Julie Dominguez and Keshanti Tidwell on the successful completion of their NSF summer scholars internship!

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