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San Diego State University

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Access Network

Full title of project:  Access Network:  Supporting Retention and Representation in Physics Through  an Alliance of Campus-Based Diversity Programs

Principal Investigators: Daniel Reinholz, SDSU; Joel Corbo, CU Boulder; Scott Franklin & Corey Ptak, Rochester Institute of Technology; Anna Zaniewski, Arizona State University.  Funded by the National Science Foundation, 2015-2018.

Website: http://accessnetwork.org/

Description: The Access Network consists of six university-based programs co-working with graduate and undergraduate students across the country towards a vision of a more diverse, equitable, inclusive, and accessible STEM community. To realize this vision, Access and its member programs empower students as co-leaders, giving them voice and ownership over local and national efforts. Access sites focus on fostering supportive learning communities, engaging students in authentic science practices, and attending to students’ development as STEM professionals. One major goal of the network is to expand on local efforts, by cultivating inter-institutional communities and facilitating the sharing of ideas across sites.

The programs within Access were inspired by the Compass Project at the University of California Berkeley. Since 2007, student leaders in Compass have promoted diversity in the physical sciences through myriad projects, including an annual summer program for incoming first-year undergraduate students. Of the 108 students who completed the summer program between 2007-13, 44% were women, 29% were from underrepresented minority groups, and 21% were first-generation college students. About half of these students completed degrees in four years and 100% completed degrees in six years, with 80% earning a STEM degree. For its dedication to student-led community, the American Physical Society honored Compass with the 2012 Award for Improving Undergraduate Physics Education.

In 2015, Compass and five similar programs came together to form Access. While every site reflects the core values of the network, each program differs from the others. These differences in programming are a reflection of the particular student populations at each site. For example, unlike other sites in the network, IMPRESS at Rochester Institute of Technology engages with a large number of deaf and hard-of-hearing students. Accordingly, the design and implementation of IMPRESS is uniquely tailored to its local population. Thus, each site contributes to the network valuable perspectives and expertise on how to promote diversity and equity in STEM.

For more information, visit the Access Network website.