What is RaMP?

Research and Mentoring for Postbaccalaureates (RaMP) is a new program funded by the United States National Science Foundation (NSF). The goals of the program are "to train individuals for a range of potential career pathways in the biological sciences including: research-focused M.S. or Ph.D. graduate programs; entry-level positions in industry, federal, tribal, or state agencies, education and research centers, or not-for-profit science-based organizations; or other STEM careers." In particular, NSF has tasked RaMP programs to focus their recruiting efforts on: "Individuals from groups underrepresented in STEM, first generation college students, and students at under-resourced institutions [who] frequently have limited opportunities to participate in the undergraduate research experiences that are necessary to be competitive for graduate programs or other STEM career pathways." SPARCnet RaMP was funded in August, 2023, and we are excited to welcome RaMP participants to our network. Our first cohort of RaMP participants will begin on July 1st, 2024.

SPARCnet RaMP: Training the next generation of interdisciplinary scientists to collaboratively address species responses to climate change with SPARCnet

The SPARCnet RaMP program is recruiting a diverse cohort of 8-10 recent college graduates for a paid, year-long research and professional development mentorship program starting on July 1st, 2024. Mentee participants will work in a mentor-mentee team to carry out individual and collaborative research projects investigating patterns and predicting responses of amphibians to global change. Teams will be based at locations across the eastern and midwestern United States, within the range of SPARCnet's focal salamander species, the eastern red-backed salamander (Plethodon cinereus). The SPARCnet RaMP program will provide professional development and career exploration for mentees to gain placement in career or graduate school opportunities, with the goal of expanding participation in the scientific workforce.

All mentee participants in our program will receive an annual stipend of $32,500 (+ benefits) to work full-time at one of our participating institutions under the mentorship of SPARCnet researchers. They will also receive a combined travel and research budget of $10,000 to cover expenses associated with their research and professional development activities (e.g., attending and presenting at professional conferences).

SPARCnet RaMP Program Highlights

Each cohort of SPARCnet RaMP mentees will have the opportunities to participate in the following events over the course of their 1-year participation in the program

  • Field Ecology Bootcamp and Program Kickoff at Mountain Lake Biological Station in Pembroke, Virginia
    • All participants will attend a 1-week bootcamp at Mountain Lake Biological Station at the start of their 1-year program. At bootcamp, we will all work together to learn basic salamander field work skills, go over code of conduct and field safety modules, and get to know the mentors and other participants. For the 2024-2025 cohort, bootcamp is scheduled for July 7 - July 13th, 2024. Transportation, food, lodging, and any other bootcamp expenses are covered by the RaMP grant.

  • Collaborative Core Research Project
    • SPARCnet collaborators have 10+ years of mark-recapture data on the eastern red-backed salamander from around the network. Each cohort of mentee participants will work together to leverage this data set to answer questions related to population responses to climate change (see Mentors and Research Questions page for more details on these questions). Participants will gain skills working with large data sets, hypothesis-testing statistical methods, and ecological modeling

  • Individual Tailored Research Project
    • Each mentee participant will work with their mentor to develop and complete an independent project within their mentor's area of expertise. We encourage potential applicants to review the Mentors and Research Questions page to decide with whom their interests best align. You will be expected to work in-person, full-time at your mentor's institution, so please take that into consideration when deciding on a preferred mentor.

  • Structured and regular professional development workshops with SPARCnet members and other industry professionals
    • Because SPARCnet is distributed across the eastern United States, participants will meet weekly on Zoom during the academic year to participate in professional development workshops. Workshops will aim to help prepare participants for the STEM job or graduate school market, and in addition to skill building (resume workshops, elevator pitches), there will also be invited talks from and Q&As with industry professionals.

  • Ecological methods workshops
    • In order to give participants broad training beyond their Core and Tailored projects, there will be two, fully funded, in-person methods workshops that focus on introducing hands-on methods (e.g., genetics lab methods, physiology trial methods) and helping participants build their STEM skills.

  • Attend and present research at national and/or regional conferences
    • Mentors will help participants find an appropriate national and/or regional conference to present their Core and/or Tailored project results. Travel to at least one conference (including conference registration, transportation, lodging, and food) will be covered by the RaMP grant for each participant.