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Building Careers

Published March 30, 2020

After successful completion of its first phase, Cal State Long Beach’s Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity (BUILD) Program was awarded $19.8 million in July for another five years of funding by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The primary aims for phase 2, also referred to as BUILD II, are to identify and refine innovative program components that are both effective and sustainable without external funding from the NIH, institutionalize these programs and disseminate them to other universities, particularly minority-serving and comprehensive institutions.

Cal State Long Beach is one of 10 BUILD program sites nationwide, and has forged a CSU BUILD Alliance with its sister BUILD programs at Cal State Northridge and San Francisco State for CSU system-wide dissemination. The BUILD Program is led by Drs. Chi-Ah Chun, Jesse Dillon, Panadda Marayong and Kim Vu, and Simon Kim, associate vice president of Research and Sponsored Programs for BUILD II.

Drs. Laura Kingsford and Guido Urizar oversaw BUILD I.

Chun credited late provost David Dowell’s transformative vision and unwavering support, as well as a commitment by Provost Brian Jersky, for the ability to develop and implement a wide range of innovative programs in BUILD I. She said that it “bolstered the university’s institutional infrastructure to transform the undergraduate research culture on campus.”

The flagship achievement of BUILD has been its undergraduate research training programs, and has trained 281 undergraduate students in health-related research, spanning majors from four colleges -- Engineering, Health and Human Services, Liberal Arts and Natural Sciences and Mathematics – with 83 percent of the 114 students who applied to graduate programs enrolled. As a group, these trainees have given 1,040 presentations and are co-authors on 72 publications.

This undergraduate research training program has a physical home called the BUILD Center at the newly opened Student Success Center, which offers space for BUILD trainees to study, meet with graduate mentors and training directors, take practice GRE tests, and browse through summer internship and graduate program resources.

student success center

“Student success in research training cannot be achieved without the commitment of faculty mentors who train them,’ Chun said.

More than 100 faculty members from the four colleges have signed up to be BUILD mentors, and completed the BUILD Mentoring Community and Multicultural Workshops. The workshops enable them be more effective mentors who understand the needs of underrepresented undergraduates participating in an intensive training program and applying for the competitive graduate program.

This carries beyond the BUILD program because they apply what they learned to mentoring undergraduate and graduate students in their research programs. In BUILD II, the focus is on creating video modules on a number of essential topics for mentoring such as communication and equity and inclusion. The goal, according to Chun, is to offer these video training modules through the Beach Mentor Program at the Faculty Center.

Other projects for BUILD II include the development of an informal Research Certificate Program for all students interested in pursuing intensive research training as well as broadening the student research culture by supporting the National Council of Undergraduate Research (NCUR) conference at Cal State Long Beach in April 2021, and a new university-wide event called the Week of Research.

BUILD II also aims to support the university’s ongoing effort to diversify tenure-track faculty, including the launching of the BUILD Pre-Professor Program that mentors Ph.D. students and postdoctoral fellows at UC Irvine.

For system-wide dissemination, the CSU BUILD Alliance will work closely with the Chancellor’s Doctoral Incentive Program, the Sally Casanova California Pre-Doctoral Program, and the Institute of Technology and Learning at the CSU Chancellor’s Office.