Lehigh has earned national distinction from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), one of the world’s premier biomedical philanthropies. In 2006, 2010, and 2014, Lehigh received major grants in competition with America’s foremost research universities for a model STEM program centered at the intersection of life science, biomedicine, and engineering. The HHMI awards to Lehigh, which total over $9 million, have set an institutional standard for excellence in STEM education defined by continuous innovation, benefit for our students, and a commitment to diversity.
For these outstanding opportunities to continue, we are seeking philanthropic support to build endowment resources that sustain the HHMI-seeded program. Success in raising this endowment assures exemplary practices in STEM education and will also strengthen Lehigh's long-held reputation in STEM fields.
Rapidly Accelerated Research Experience (RARE) is a focused pre-admission-to-graduation science immersion program. The overarching goal of the program is to provide opportunities for students from backgrounds underrepresented in STEM fields to develop outstanding scientific skills in an environment that emphasizes preparation for leadership in addressing the increasingly complex issues facing the life sciences in the 21st century.
The program incorporates four dimensions that are essential for success: an innovative curriculum, a residential community of scholars, enhanced mentorship and advising, and hands on research experience. RARE is a multi-level, structured, comprehensive four-year approach to help Lehigh students excel in STEM.
The first three student cohorts (totaling 48) increased the number of underrepresented STEM students at Lehigh by 38%. Our projected graduation rates for RARE students is above 80%, well above national averages of 40% and Lehigh's average among all students in STEM fields of 70%.
“I am a first generation college student and am proud to call myself a RARE scholar.
I knew I wanted to explore what Bioengineering was, and I wanted to challenge myself and follow a non-traditional pathway to medical school rather than pursue my B.S. in Biochemistry. I saw an opportunity to further enhance my undergraduate education and be a cohort of students who share a passion for the STEM field.
RARE allows students the opportunity to have dinners with Faculty members, and guest speakers who come to share their research work at their institutions. To name a few my freshman year, Dominique Bergmann, Ph.D, from Stanford University came to give a talk titled, “Making a difference: how to create stem cells and have their products change the world.” This year Dr. Rothschild, from NASA, came to present for the campus, and as RARE students we had the opportunity to have dinner with her and ask questions.
Having the ability to call oneself a RARE scholar is a privilege. It means you are a student driven to read beyond the lines of the textbooks, and ask challenging questions. You have the opportunity to explore research in various different disciplines, and that is powerful.
Personally, this experience was great, the course allowed you to develop keen scientific skills, and gave you experience as if you working in a research lab by making you have a lab notebook, take pictures of your work, and hypothesize future steps. It was my first time working with bioinformatics, a field that combines engineering, computer science, biology, and mathematics. Due to this experience, I was published as a co-author in the final research paper, which is incredible. RARE has allowed me to pursue my passion for research and apply the concepts we learn inside of the lecture rooms. It is an opportunity that cannot be missed.
I would encourage students to apply, from all different backgrounds. It is an opportunity that cannot be missed, even today I tell my upperclassmen friends all about my RARE stories, and they keep telling me that they wish that they had been able to have a program like that during their time. ”
—Patricia Morales ’19, Lehigh University student, bioengineering major with a pre-health track