STEM Graduate Students’ Development at the Intersection of Research, Leadership, and Innovation

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  • Researcher innovation and leadership skills are fundamental to create implementable solutions to pressing societal- and market-based global problems. The Research to Innovation to Society (R2I2S) program is a transformative approach to graduate education, training students at the intersection of research, innovation, and leadership. We detail the design of the program, and a three-year exploratory investigation of its impact at one research university in the western United States. We found that, overall, students who participated in the program realized the value of thinking about their scientific research from a market-need perspective. Students perceived enhanced interest in and understanding of societal and market insights related to their own and other’s research. As well, students developed professional skills in communication, team collaboration, innovation, and entrepreneurial skills. We situate our findings in frameworks concerning the development of emerging professionals and argue for programming for STEM graduate students that extends the deep discipline knowledge-based model of professional development into one inclusive of leadership, communication, and innovation goals.
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