About the ASRI

The Arkansas Summer Research Institute (ASRI) is an intensive professional development event hosted by Arkansas NSF EPSCoR & DART in collaboration with the Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences, & the Arts (ASMSA). The event is attended by students from Arkansas and the surrounding region. During the event, students learn a blend of technical skills and professional skills in an inclusive and supportive environment.  The ASRI is rigorous, but rewarding.

The ASRI team implements mixed pedagogy methods to ensure that every student who participates in the event will complete a real data science research project, deliver a compelling presentation on their work, and market their skills to potential employers with their portfolio and professional CV. The use of intermediate and beginner level tracks and breakout sessions allows students to customize their learning experience based on their interests and abilities. No lectures allowed- everything is interactive and thoughtfully designed to build confidence and a sense of community in attendees.

ASRI Leadership

The ASRI is organized by a committee and supported by dozens of faculty, staff, and industry professionals from across the state. The ASRI Co-Directors are Dr. Patrycja Krakowiak (ASMSA), Dr. Whitney Holden (ASMSA), and Jennifer Fowler (DART). The pilot program was developed with Marta Collier-Youngblood. The ASRI leadership team also includes Teresa Valdivia, Brittany Hillyer (DART), Dr. Karl Schubert (UARK), and Dr. Steve Addison (UCA).

ASRI Cohorts

ASRI History (Pre-Pandemic)

The ASRI was first piloted in 2015, during the fifth year of the NSF EPSCoR Track-1 project ASSET II that began in 2010. The subsequent Track-1 project that was awarded, The Center for Advanced Surface Engineering, provided continued support for the ASRI and enabled the organizers to further develop the program. The Arkansas NSF EPSCoR external evaluator has been involved from the beginning, and uses a variety of evaluation methods and assessments to produce a yearly evaluation report for the program which is used to make iterative improvements.

The ASRI was originally intended to serve as a professional development training for students who would be working in EPSCoR-funded labs the following school year. After the 2016 cohort, the organizers realized that many students across the state would benefit from the opportunity, especially students at campuses with limited resources to support student research. From 2015 – 2019, the program was hosted in person on the ASMSA campus in downtown Hot Springs.

In 2017, a new ASRI experience debuted. STEM undergraduates from across the state were recruited to attend for one week of intensive professional development. Courses that year included lab techniques like gel electrophoresis and polymerase chain reaction, as well as resume building and job interview practice. Students were taught in a classroom setting how to conduct a literature review and effectively interpret scientific journals. The 2017 students selected a research paper that was relevant to their interests, and developed a research presentation that was delivered to their fellow attendees on the last day of the event. Students also completed CITI Responsible Conduct of Research training and received their certifications in preparation for lab work.

Over the next few years, the organizers continued to expand and refine the program and its curriculum. In 2018, the event was expanded to include two identical weeklong sessions to accommodate a higher number of participants. At the time, the program faced some restrictions on the number of students that could attend each cohort due to classroom sizes and equipment availability. New courses were offered, including 3D printing and a panel discussion on entrepreneurship and research commercialization.

ASRI Video Recap Series

When the ASRI was hosted in person, the organizers filmed throughout the experience and created recap videos featuring interviews and other highlights from each cohort. More videos about the ASRI can be found on the @arepscor YouTube channel.