November 26, 2020 - Dr. Mark Prendergast (Research Opportunities for Underrepresented Minorities)

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 26, 2020) – Coming from a large family in Nebraska, Dr. Mark Prendergast grew up with a desire to help others.

Prendergast, the Director of the Neuroscience Bachelor of Science degree program in the UK College of Arts & Sciences, has used that desire to find demonstrative ways to increase the number of students of color in the neuroscience field.

“We have a longstanding commitment to addressing issues of diversity, inclusivity and equity,” says Prendergast. “And one of our most important missions as faculty and scientists is to train the next generation of scientists and professors. And we have to, absolutely must do that, with diversity, inclusivity and equity in mind.”

From 2013-2019, he co-directed a NIH-funded research training program for undergraduate students. The 10-week lab course studied alcohol at different levels of analysis, including cellular, behavioral and social. Prendergast says their mission was to address underrepresented minorities in the program.

In 2020, Prendergast began working with Joe Springer, Director of the UK Spinal Cord and Brain Injury Research Center, to develop the African-American Research Training Scholars Program. The program funds up to five 12-month awards for undergraduate students who identify as Black or African-American to work in a laboratory studying spinal cord injury or neuro-trauma.

On this episode of Behind the Blue, UKPR’s Carl Nathe talks with Prendergast about developing partnerships across campus, keeping students engaged in programs with work opportunities and mentorships, and more.

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