New STEM lab experiences at UTA

Michael Nelson with students
Michael Nelson, right, with students

Newly awarded federal funding will help a University of Texas at Arlington program continue training the next generation of STEM professionals, regardless of their academic background.

UTA’s Summer Undergraduate Research Program in Integrative Physiology (SURPINT) has earned a five-year grant from the American Heart Association (AHA) and the National Institute of Health (NIH). The NIH aims to get more underrepresented minorities engaged in academic research experiences with the goal of increasing the likelihood of their ultimate participation in a STEM career.

Founded by Robert Matthew Brothers and Michael Nelson, associate professors in kinesiology, SURPINT focuses on providing interested students with the necessary skills to perform academic research within STEM fields.

Matthew Brothers poses for headshot
Matthew Brothers

“This grant focuses on providing research experiences for undergraduate students,” Brothers said. “There is a specific focus on underrepresented minority students to get them interested in STEM overall and expose them to what STEM research means in the field of integrated physiology.”

SURPINT has the unique distinction of being open both to UTA students of all majors and to non-UTA students. Almost 20% of this past summer’s participants came from outside UTA.

SURPINT was an unfunded pilot program when it was founded in 2021. The new grant will allow for increased student benefits, including a competitive stipend, increased participation and additional experiences. This month, students will be able to attend an AHA meeting in Chicago, the trip completely funded by the grants.

“The funding will help the students with more opportunities and experiences,” Brothers said. “It also follows the mission of the grant in getting students interested and engaged in this field of research.”

Program faculty also stand to benefit from their SURPINT participation. It allows them to teach more students in a research lab setting and provides an opportunity to showcase UTA and the College of Nursing and Health Innovation’s valuable on-campus educational opportunities.

Brothers is the principal investigator on the AHA grant. Nelson oversees the NIH grant. Additional faculty collaborators are Kenyatta Dawson, director in the Office of Undergraduate Research, and David Keller, associate dean and professor.

“This program is a great opportunity for the students, and that’s what we want,” Brothers said. “We want to get students involved and exposed to the research end of STEM, and this program is a great way to accomplish that.”

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