0102932Francisco-OrtegaTwo institutions in Miami, Florida International University (FIU) and Fairchild Tropical Garden (FTG), plan a multidisciplinary, two-year program to mentor 27 upper-level students in tropical environmental biology. The program involves 13 FIU faculty and an education specialist from FTG. The immediate objective of the program is for students to develop careers in biological sciences relating to the environment. To achieve this objective the PIs will direct a mentoring program on the natural history, marine and terrestrial environments, and conservation biology of the Caribbean region. To attract high-quality students, the program will provide: stipends, three new upper-level courses, field courses (in the Bahamas and Panama), Florida field trips, laboratory rotations, research supplies, travel to a professional meeting, and career orientation activities. Mentors will offer academic, research and career advice. Each student will produce and present a research project. The program will have internal and external evaluations by a steering committee, two outside evaluators and an advisory committee.FIU is one of the leading U.S. research universities in recruiting students from groups that are under-represented in science (71% are African American or Hispanic). In the long term, this program will produce well trained environmental biologists who will have a positive impact on the conservation of fragile environments of the Caribbean - South Florida region.