ENCOURAGE - Diversity Program

Group of students in ENCOURAGE program looking at laptop

The ENCOURAGE-Diversity Program (Encouraging Cancer & Oncology Undergraduate Research Growth and Engagement) at Moffitt Cancer Center is sponsored by the American Cancer Society and aims to train underrepresented minority undergraduate students in various fields related to cancer research. Students will train in the labs of world-renown cancer research experts for one year starting in the summer. In addition to laboratory training, students may also attend seminars, meetings, workshops and various other career development activities during their time at Moffitt.

Program Requirements:

Students accepted to the ENCOURAGE-Diversity Program will train full-time during the summer. Due to this commitment, summer employment or enrollment in classes is discouraged. ENCOURAGE will continue on a part-time basis through the following academic year. Students will receive a $5,000 stipend.

The ENCOURAGE-Diversity Program provides a well-rounded training experience that includes but is not limited to:

  • Networking opportunities with Moffitt faculty, staff, and fellow trainees
  • Scientific Communications Workshop
  • Campus seminars and lab meetings
  • Research Day
  • Moffitt Scientific Symposium

Program Eligibility:

  • Come from an underrepresented minority within science and medicine. i.e. Hispanic/Latino, African-American/Black, or Indigenous American.
  • College rising sophomore or junior from Hillsborough Community College, St. Leo University, Pasco Hernando State College or the University of South Florida

How To Apply:

Application deadline March 31, 2023

  1. Fill out an electronic application which will include:
    • Personal statement
    • Two letters of reference
      • One must speak on the student academically
      • One must speak on the student professionally or through extracurricular/community service experiences.
    • Signed statement of commitment
  1. Request your official college transcripts to be sent electronically to paola.uscanga@moffitt.org
  • Applicants must be majoring in a STEM field
  • 3.0 GPA or higher
  • Be able to commit to full-time during the summer and part-time during the fall/spring semesters

Program Contact:

Paola Uscanga, Program Administrator, paola.uscanga@moffitt.org


Faculty Mentors for the ENCOURAGE-Diversity Program

Dr. Elsa Flores

Elsa R. Flores, PhD

Division Chief, Basic Science 
Research Focus: Molecular Oncology focused on defining the roles of the p53 family of proteins

Dr. Gwede Clement

Clement K. Gwede, PhD, MPH, RN, FAAN, FAACE, FSBM

Department of Health Outcomes and Behavior
Research Focus: Reduce cancer health disparities using community-based participatory research methods to implement interventions.

Dr. John Koomen

John M. Koomen, PhD

Department of Molecular Oncology
Research Focus: Applying proteomic and metabolic techniques to understand fundamentals of tumor biology.

Paulo Rodriquez

Paulo Rodriguez, PhD

Department of Immunology
Research Focus: Developing strategies to restore protective immunity in cancer patients, leading to long-lasting anti-tumor effector T cell immunity.

Dr. Tiffany Carson

Tiffany L. Carson, PhD, MPH

Department of Health Outcomes and Behavior
Research Focus: How stress and weight impact cancer prevention and control and relationships to the microbiota, with a focus on Black women.

Dr. Derek Duckett

Derek R. Duckett, PhD

Department of Drug Discovery
Research Focus: Developing novel inhibitors to interrogate signaling pathways and with the goal of developing future treatments for breast cancer, lung cancer, and lymphoma.