The Bench Tutorials Program is a best practice model developed by UTMB's Community Engagement Core and is supported in part by the Institute for Translational Sciences. It has been designed to closely align with the mission and scope of the UTMB's Center for Environmental Toxicology (CET), which will harness CET resources to:
- Align Bench participants with cutting-edge environmental health and disaster research projects
- Leverage the Environmental Toxicology Training grant trainees (pre-doctoral and post-doctoral) as mentors to sharpen their critical teaching and mentoring skills
- Contextualize environmental health and disaster research through community-based research within students’ own coastal community
The Bench Tutorials Program is an advanced biomedical training program for qualified Galveston Independent School District high school students (juniors and seniors). These high school students are paired with a graduate student or postdoctoral trainee mentor, who aim to strengthen the technical understanding and rigor of their mentees.
Bench students spend a year working on an advanced research project in the laboratory of a UTMB scientist. Through their participation, students earn high school course credits, present their research to the UTMB research community, and work within a functional research laboratory. Bench mentors have credited the program with providing valuable teaching experience and with sharpening their scientific training and science communication skills.
The program also includes an enrichment component that provides college and career planning, particularly aiding high school students with developing an “academic ladder.” Additionally, the Program tracks enrollment numbers, scientific presentations, and engagement and education opportunities. Metrics include pre- and post-surveys, which measure scientific knowledge, teaching/mentoring skills, and interest and intent to pursue both scientific and environmental health academic and professional careers.