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This new summer research bridge program, founded by doctoral candidate LaKeya Hardy, will support departmental diversity and strengthen connections with historically black colleges and universities.

UNC School of Medicine PhD candidate LaKeya Hardy founded a new summer bridge program in partnership with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in North Carolina: the Summer Research Opportunity Program (SROP) in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology (M&I). Hardy, who is also a Burroughs Wellcome Fund (BWF) Graduate Diversity Enrichment Program (GDEP) Fellow, is a HBCU graduate herself.

“In my experience, it’s very hard for students at HBCUs to have access to resources and research opportunities, especially since existing programs are nationally competitive,” Hardy said. “So we are targeting those near and dear to us – North Carolina HBCUs like the one I attended, NC A&T. This will allow participants to get familiar with cutting-edge research at a top-tier research institution (UNC).”

Sarah Dulson, PhD

The launch of the HBCU-Bridge Summer Research Opportunity Program (SROP) will support the M&I Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee’s initiative to broaden trainee diversity and strengthen connections with local historically black colleges and universities. The 10-week SROP program will kick off its inaugural cohort at the end of May, in hopes of providing valuable exposure and experience to facilitate the successful transition of underrepresented minority students into graduate education at UNC or other academic institutions.

Hardy, who serves as SROP Co-Director, along with M&I colleagues SPIRE

Jamie Arnold, PhD

Fellow, Sarah Dulson, PhD, and associate professor Jamie Arnold, PhD, hopes the program will continue to inspire students to pursue STEM careers, develop professionally, and strengthen participant’s competitiveness to continue in the research pipeline. Hardy’s vision is that this will bring the training environment one step closer to broadening diversity in the biomedical STEM workforce of the future. Eligible students are rising sophomore, junior, and senior undergraduates majoring in molecular biology, microbiology, and biochemistry and immunology at local HBCUs.

For more information, please contact SROP Co-Directors:

LaKeya Hardy, Burroughs Wellcome GDEP Pre-Doctoral Fellow,

Sarah Dulson, SPIRE Postdoctoral Scholar,

Jamie Arnold, associate professor,