A History of the Program

In 1998, the University of Kentucky Center on Drug and Alcohol Research was awarded a Science Education Drug Abuse Partnership Award (SEDAPA) from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that looked at how young women can be supported and encouraged to pursue careers in science. The Young Women in Science program began with a dream-- to encourage young women from southeastern Kentucky to pursue careers in science, specifically drug and alcohol research. Discussions between the University of Kentucky Center on Drug and Alcohol Research, the Appalachian Women's Consortium and the East Kentucky Women's Leadership in Southeastern Kentucky solidified the need for a program.

Young Women in Science (YWIS) was a three-year program for young women that included three weeks of on-campus living at the University of Kentucky, mentoring relationships with local and scientific mentors, and five Saturday sessions at both Prestonsburg and Hazard Community Colleges. During the summer of 1999, twenty-six young women entering 9th grade from southeastern Kentucky began the program. In 2000, an additional twenty-five students began. The program was serving young women from Breathitt, Knott, Floyd, Lee, Johnson, Leslie, Letcher, Magoffin, Martin, Owsley, Perry, Pike, and Wolfe counties. All of the YWIS participants are enrolled in college.

In 2002, the Center on Drug and Alcohol Research at the University of Kentucky was awarded a Science Education Drug Abuse Partnership Award (SEDAPA) from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop and implement a drug and alcohol research curriculum for middle school girls in sixth to eighth grades who live in rural Appalachian Kentucky. Girls in Research is a continuation of the Young Women in Science program that began in 1999.

The focus of the Girls in Research program is to encourage 6th grade girls to pursue careers in research, specifically, drug and alcohol research. This is a three year program which includes a week long camp at the University of Kentucky for three consecutive years in June, mentoring relationships and five Saturday Academies throughout the school year at participants' local community colleges. All expenses are paid. Participants receive a $100 stipend upon completion of each summer session and a $1000 stipend upon completion of the three year program to be used for any college they wish to attend. This initiative also involves the participation of teachers and parents through a series of workshops. Teachers receive training in science, research and gender equity and are given $500 to start Girls in Research clubs in the middle school. The clubs are open to all middle school girls.

The girls are recruited from the following counties in Kentucky: Bell, Breathitt, Clay, Floyd, Harlan, Jackson, Johnson, Knott, Knox, Laurel, Lee, Leslie, Letcher, Magoffin, Martin, Owsley, Perry, Pike, Rockcastle, Whitley, and Wolfe.