Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2019

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors


Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

First Advisor

Dr. Lisa Corwin


There is a shortage of diversity, and issues with persistence, in professional Science Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) careers in the United States. Undergraduate biology students’ differential access to STEM experiences, may be contributing to this problem. In order to persist in a STEM career pathway, undergraduate biology students need critical experiences, such as lab research, career shadowing, and volunteer hours for admission to an advanced degree program. My aim was to identify supports and barriers encountered by undergraduate biology students while trying to gain access to critical experiences and admission into an advanced degree program. Six transcribed interviews from biology students who had been accepted into a graduate or medical school were analyzed using a qualitative coding technique to identify trends. Here, I inductively identified supports and barriers that fell into five broad categories, including academic, financial, personal, institutional, and professional social networks. It is my hope that my findings will inform design and deployment of educational interventions that strengthen supports and eliminate barriers to help undergraduates gain admission into an advanced degree program for the opportunity to persist in a STEM career pathway.