UIC Faculty Mentors

An opportunity to develop underrepresented students’ research skills

Taking a solid step toward attracting more underrepresented students to science careers, the Bridges to Baccalaureate program offers an innovative opportunity for UIC faculty in the behavioral and biomedical sciences to mentor Chicago-area community college students as they make the transition to UIC science majors.

“My experience mentoring one of the first Bridges students was very positive,” says former mentor David Carley, Ph.D., professor of biobehavioral health science. “I’m a big believer in pairing practical experiences with didactic experiences as early as possible in someone’s education. It’s inspiring to work with folks at the early stages of their own quests. Seeing their excitement and enthusiasm takes me back—we need to keep providing that access to new researchers just beginning to experience the thrill of discovery.”

The Bridges program is a National Institutes of Health-funded initiative to recruit and improve the basic research skills of underrepresented community college students–and encourage them to continue their science education at UIC. With an end goal of increasing the number of minority students who pursue research careers in the behavioral and biomedical sciences, the program includes orientation workshops, summer research experiences, continuous mentoring, financial support, and the development of cohort groups that move through their undergraduate programs together.

The Bridges program builds on UIC’s existing partnership with the City Colleges of Chicago and South Suburban College to reach greater numbers of potential scientists in nursing, public health, psychology, chemistry, biology, and physics. Further developing this collaborative relationship, the program also provides UIC faculty mentorship to help community college science faculty members enhance their expertise as educators in their fields.


  • Bridges students are enrolled in Chicago-area community college programs that prepare them to transfer to behavioral or biomedical science majors at UIC.
  • Eighteen students were selected in the first grant year (2014); a new group has been chosen each subsequent funded year.
  • Based on his or her own research interests, each student chooses a mentor from the pool of participating UIC faculty; if the potential mentor agrees, the pair is matched.
  • Each faculty mentor provides the student mentee with a full-time research experience (35 hours per week) for six weeks in the summer.
  • Before beginning research with faculty mentors, students complete a two-week workshop that covers basic research skills and processes; students also attend occasional seminars designed to develop their academic skills and professional behaviors.
  • In addition to the student cohort, between two and four community college science faculty members are selected each year to be matched with UIC faculty research mentors.

Read more about the responsibilities of UIC faculty mentors and meet the professors who are mentoring.