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Project L/EARN News and Events » Project L/EARN featured on Rutgers Highlight

Project L/EARN Preps Students for Grad School, Careers as Health Researchers
For most collegians working part time to finance their schooling, their jobs have little or nothing to do with future education or career aspirations. Rutgers and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF, now offer an alternative: a demanding, 10-week summer research training program in New Brunswick that illuminates a path to graduate school and a potential career as health researchers.

Since 1991, Project L/EARN ( has enabled sophomores and juniors from populations that have been underrepresented in health careers to explore graduate training and career opportunities in the fields of health, mental health and health policy research. “Many students from these backgrounds don’t know much about graduate school – how to prepare for the GREs, the application process or what career options might lie ahead when they complete graduate education,” said Program Director Diane “Deedee” Davis. “Project L/EARN is designated as one of Rutgers’ Graduate Education Preparation Programs.”

The project – whose name embodies its “Learn While You Earn” philosophy – is an intensive mix of lectures, computer lab work, reading and statistics homework, mentoring and networking, and includes a trip to a professional conference. Instructors – Project L/EARN alumni and faculty, including professor and Faculty Director Jane Miller – provide training in research methods, study design, statistics and research paper writing. As their major assignment, students develop a research question, perform a literature review, conduct data analysis and complete a 30-page research paper under the guidance of a faculty mentor.

They also present their results at a poster session and oral presentation to faculty mentors and research staff from such Rutgers units as the Institute for Health, Health Care Policy and Aging Research (home to Project L/EARN,; the schools of Social Work ( and Arts and Sciences (, the College of Nursing (, as well as from UMDNJ (

Befitting the 2009 interns’ varied backgrounds and interests, their research projects were quite diverse, Miller said. They included studies of fathers’ parenting style in single-father and two-parent homes in relation to sexual activity; family relationship factors associated with the likelihood of end-of-life planning; the association of Marianismo beliefs and acculturation on physical activity and obesity risk among Latinas; nurse staffing levels and family satisfaction in nursing homes; and the influence of knowledge and perceptions on sexual behavior in adolescents, among others. See for more information on the 2009 interns and their research projects.

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