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Diving Into Research

The Diving Into Research (DIR) program is an immersive summer research experience for pre-matriculated students (incoming freshmen) from groups traditionally underrepresented and underserved in the sciences. The program is designed to introduce these students to scientific research, encourage them to consider a career in the sciences, and provide them a smooth transition to Vassar prior to New Student Orientation.  Dir Students work directly with a Vassar faculty member in a science/math research laboratory under the umbrella of the Undergraduate Research Summer Institute (URSI) program.  See the sidebar for this year's available projects. 

This Summer will mark our ninth year of offering DIR.  DIR students not only gain the experience of working on a science research project, they also receive orientation and training to prepare them to enter Vassar as a freshman and to take full advantage of the science offerings.  Our students have greatly benefited from participating in the DIR in the past, and it is one of the best ways to actively promote and encourage diversity in the sciences.

One key aim of the program is to address barriers to success in the sciences.  A primary tool for accomplishing this goal is the creation of a mentoring network, which includes close mentoring of the DIR students by peer and faculty mentors over their entire Vassar experience.  As a DIR faculty, you will assist with the DIR student fellow selection process in May.  During the last 5-weeks of URSI, you will oversee the research experience of your DIR Mentee.  After the summer, you then will go on to serve as their pre-major advisor.  Additional expectations of DIR Faculty Mentors include: to proactively advise and mentor the DIR students during the summer and academic year; to act as a visible and accessible resource to DIR students, which includes attending URSI/DIR events during the summer; to work with the DIR directors, the Student Experience Coordinator, the DIR Peer Mentors, and the director of Residential Life to provide a positive holistic experience for the DIR students; and to participate in assessment efforts to help increase the effectiveness of the program.

Students who are selected to participate in DIR will work directly with a Vassar faculty member in a science/math research laboratory. Returning Vassar students will serve as peer mentors outside of the lab. DIR students will conduct real scientific research, meet other science and non-science students, learn about campus services and the surrounding community, and participate in a variety of social activities (e.g. BBQs, hikes, local events, picnics)

The Offices of Admissions and Financial Aid will screen the applications of students admitted to Vassar to identify those who meet the qualifications for the DIR program. Students who meet the criteria will then be invited to apply. The DIR program application will be emailed to these students in early May and will be due electronically in mid-May. Notifications of acceptance into the DIR program will be made in late May.

Qualifications

  • Students who have been accepted to Vassar and who will matriculate during the coming fall semester
  • Students who are 16 years or older
  • Students who have an interest in the sciences
  • Students who are from groups traditionally underrepresented and underserved in the sciences (e.g. socioeconomically disadvantaged families, underrepresented ethnic groups, first-generation college students, undocumented students)

2018 DIR Program Details

  • 2 July – 4 August, 2018
  • Stipend paid to each DIR student: $1900
  • Meal allowance provided
  • On-campus accommodations provided free of charge
  • Travel expenses to/from Vassar fully reimbursed