Recognizing the high workload and rapid pace of faculty life at a comprehensive university like CSUN, I proposed an NIH Minority Research Infrastructure Support Program (M-RISP).
I was a frequent inspirational speaker at CSUN’s New Faculty Orientation, encouraging other faculty members to follow a course similar to mine where I had freedom to choose my own activities. I began to be seen as a leader, organizing faculty for M-RISP for educational workshops and speakers as well as subproject support. Subsequently, I wrote a successful proposal for an NIMHD Research Infrastructure in Minority Institutions (RIMI) Program to support the development of faculty members and students by building a community around health equity research.
Many new faculty members in the College of Health and Human Development were ready to write NIH grants, but had few skills, so we supported them in their grant-writing through subprojects, workshops, speakers, and a tiered mentoring network of scholars that ultimately transformed and expanded for NIH BUILD (Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity). CSUN’s NIGMS BUILD PODER (Promoting Opportunities for Diversity in Education and Research) expands our reach by providing high-quality, challenging mentor training with a lens of Critical Race Theory (CRT).
After more than a decade of support from the NIH, it became apparent that many students did not see STEM and biomedical sciences as applicable to themselves and they did not apply for programs like COR and RIMI. Infrastructure changes expanding our definition of “biomedical” to the health and social sciences allowed us to develop a 16-hour mentor training program that builds a bridge between faculty and students whose cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds are often at odds.
Facing race and ethnicity head-on, we train mentors and build a culture around health equity as a social justice issue. Therefore, faculty and students in BUILD share a CRT framework, they share research and social activities, and are part of an intentional community of role model-scholars. BUILD also supports faculty members with respect to grant-writing (Faculty Scholar Academy) and pilot projects, writing and editing circles, faculty exchanges with research partners and curriculum development.
- Saetermoe, C. L., Chavira, G., Khachikian, C., Boyns, D., & Cabello, B. (2017). Critical Race Theory as a Bridge in Science Training: The California State University, Northridge BUILD PODER Program. Biomedical Central. Proceedings, Supplement 11(12).
- Byars-Winston, A.,Womack, V. Y., Butz, A. R., McGee, R., Quinn, S. C., Utzerath, E., Saetermoe, C. L., & Thomas, S. (2018). Pilot study of an intervention to increase cultural awareness in research mentoring: Implications for diversifying the scientific workforce. Journal of Clinical and Translational Science, 2, 86-94. doi:10.1017/cts.2018.25.
- Vargas, J. H., Saetermoe, C. L., & Chavira, G. (2020). Using critical race theory to reframe mentor training: theoretical considerations regarding the ecological systems of mentorship. Higher Education, DOI 10.1007/s10734-020-00598-z.