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REACH U2 Students Complete Inaugural Year

The Research Experiences to Advance the Careers of HBCU Undergraduates at the University of Utah (REACH U2) program has completed its inaugural year, providing its first cohort of undergraduate students a unique educational opportunity.

The REACH U2 program provides undergraduate students and student advisors from Historically Black Colleges and University (HBCU) North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University (NC A&T) an intensive ten-week summer research program under the mentorship of University of Utah faculty members. This year, five students and two graduates from NC A&T worked closely with DFPM and Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) faculty, expanding their knowledge of health research and performing their own research activities under the guidance of their faculty mentors. The research subjects, which focused on health disparities but spanned such diverse subjects as cancer research, public health, and bioinformatics, allowed students the opportunity to participate in tier-one research while being hosted by the U.

The program culminated last week in a poster session in which REACH U2 Scholars presented the findings of their research over the course of the program, honing valuable skills in research communication and poster presentation on top of the research skills gained during the program. The REACH U2 scholars and advisors will now return to North Carolina, armed with the information and connections they made in Utah as they contemplate the next stage of their educational careers.

“I am really grateful for the collaboration and mentorship I received during my REACH U2 experience,” said Sharla Kirkpatrick, who mentored with DFPM professor Mia Hashibe, PhD. “I was able to learn new skills, like coding, that I can use for future research projects. Before REACH U2 I had never been able to present my work at an in-person research symposium so it was a really valuable experience. I learned so much about research as a career and public health professions in these past 10 weeks!”

The REACH U2 program is an annual partnership between the School of Medicine (SOM), DFPM, HCI, and NC A&T. The program’s next cohort of Scholars will be announced May of 2023.