Developing Scholars Program encourages underrepresented groups to get involved in research

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Members of the Developing Scholars Program. (Photo courtesy of K-State Division of Communications and Marketing)

Founded 20 years ago, the Developing Scholars Program at Kansas State seeks to help students get involved in research. Specifically, it targets first-generation or historically underrepresented students.

“What we notice is that having research looks great, especially when you’re applying to professional schools, graduate schools or any other job outlook, job field,” Mia Taylor, DSP graduate research assistant, said.

The program is competitive, but participation is compensated. Students go through an interview process to be matched with a faculty research mentor.

A variety of majors participate in the program. Jared Newell, junior in biology, has been involved in the program for three years.

“I feel as though it’s opened a lot of doors,” he said. “Not a lot of students are able to be involved in research right off the bat coming in as a freshman, like I was.”

Through DSP, he works in a neuroscience lab with zebra fish.

“Coming into that freshman year, and getting all the knowledge freshman year, was working on the technicalities, like brain imaging, getting actual slices of brains and being able to image those yourself, analyzing those was kind of like, my freshman year as a crash course,” Newell said. “That was super exciting for a freshman.”

Bradley Richards, junior in economics, had a similar experience in different research.

“It’s been one of the highlights of my college career,” he said. “Research is one of those things where you can kind of learn in your field of study, and kind of get ahead of your peers while learning present tense stuff.”

He said in terms of his identity, his research topic is something he’s passionate about.

“When I changed my major to econ, I did research in the philosophy department, and I did it on racial justice and access to college in Kansas,” Richards said. “What does it look like for African Americans to get into public universities like K-State and what does it look like to retain students and how can we increase our diversity number?”

He said he could talk about his research for days.

“When I put it down on my resume and show employers and they ask me about my research, I love to talk about it,” Richards said. “It makes me look good on paper, but it also teaches me problem-solving skills.”

Brenee King, assistant director for the Office of Undergraduate Research & Creative Inquiry, said there’s more to the program than just research.

“I’d say overall, we want to help our students be successful, and so we have other community building activities and opportunities for students within DSP,” King said. “We have a couple of large, all-invited activities, and then we have what we call small groups.”

DSP members come to the small groups based on their own schedules and get to know each other throughout the year. In the spring students present their research projects at a symposium.

“Students start in the fall, and then we have our symposium in the spring where they talk about the research that they’ve been doing to the larger K-State community,” King said.

Taylor, although she now helps students in the program, was in it for three years and said that it has also definitely helped her a lot.

“Especially with research, I am now in my master’s program for kinesiology and that’s what I did as an undergrad,” Taylor said. “I will say having that advantage of research in undergrad has definitely helped me in my master’s program.”

To get involved with the DSP, apply online.

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I'm Pete Loganbill and I'm the News Editor for the Collegian and host of the Collegian Kultivate podcast! I spent two years at Johnson County Community College, and I am now a senior in Public Relations at K-State. I believe constant communication leads to progress, no matter how difficult a comment may be for me or anyone to hear. Contact me at ploganbill@kstatecollegian.com.