A $1.4 million grant will help students transfer from Santa Fe College to UF more easily.

The grant, awarded by the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of General Medical Sciences, will establish the SF2UF Bridge to Baccalaureate Program to increase the amount of underrepresented students in the biomedical and behavioral science-related fields who transfer to UF. The grant’s funds will be distributed over the next five years.

As part of the program, Santa Fe will establish a new science tutoring center and send 48 students over the next five years to work as lab assistants at UF. Both colleges will work to make the science curriculums match as much as possible and help transfer students with the application process.

The goal, said David Julian, the UF associate professor of biology who requested the grant, is to increase the number of underrepresented transfer students in scientific research.

"Coming here to UF is a big transition," he said.

The underrepresented students are ethnic minorities, come from low-income backgrounds, have a disability or are first-generation college students, said Beatriz Gonzalez, Santa Fe’s SF2UF Bridge Program director and a biology professor at Santa Fe. Gonzalez said these students generally struggle more than others when transferring to UF.

She said this program will open doors for transfer students.

"If we can demonstrate how we can implement this in a very rigorous academic environment, that can be replicated at other institutions," Gonzalez said.

The program is one of about 40 other similar programs funded by the institute.

Naomi Edwin, a UF biochemistry and molecular biology sophomore, said while UF is already diverse, there’s always room for more representation.

"I like seeing different cultures here," the 20-year-old said.

Contact Martin Vassolo at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @martindvassolo