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University of Puerto Rico gets $750K to open research facility

The University of Puerto Rico’s Department of Chemistry at its Río Piedras campus has received a $750,000 grant to establish a Center for the Advancement of Hybrid Research Experiences for Underrepresented Students.

The funding comes from the US Department of Education, under the Minority Science and Engineering Improvement Program (MSEIP) and will extend for three years. The vision of the project is that students have access to research experiences and experiences with high-caliber instrumentation in the area of science, the school said.

Professor Liz M. Díaz-Vázquez submitted the proposal that “presents a sustainable way with which new research and training experiences can be provided to students, given the new realities they face,” school officials said.

It also proposes that freshman and sophomore students have access to research experiences in their initial academic years, so they can enter the job market earlier once they enroll in the university.

“We have to make students compete with what is in the job market,” said Díaz-Vázquez, about the importance of these experiences for students.

This represents an advantage for the student group, since researchers regularly recruit junior and senior college students for their knowledge of the process and instrumentation gained in prior experiences.

“Now, the experience that the student will have will be part of an investigation or the solution of a problem in society that requires science,” Díaz-Vázquez said.

“We’re creating a vision beyond the classroom,” she said, “so students will feel they are working with a purpose for society and not just for academic purposes.”

The terms of the proposal got underway Oct. 1. In the first phase, research modules will be developed, campus facilities will be equipped, and a recruitment process will be open to students of more advanced levels to help in its implementation.

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.

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