Eric Triplett, Ph.D.
University of Florida
Dr. Eric Triplett is Professor and Chair of the Microbiology and Cell Science Department within the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. His research interests include citrus greening disease, nitrogen fixation and the drivers of microbial diversity in a wide variety of environments, with a particular emphasis on the gut and oral microbiome. His lab has developed a model system to study citrus greening disease and has identified bacterial associations with type 1 diabetes autoimmunity and premature birth. However, he is also keenly interested in advancing the next generation of microbiologists. In his role as department chair, he initiated and led an experiment to test whether the development of a hybrid online B.S. degree program could increase the diversity of the undergraduate cohort. The hybrid online program that began in 2011 significantly increased the diversity of the cohort, while maintaining a high retention rate and GPA. These results are published. We have learned that diversity in a STEM degree program can increase substantially if the lecture courses can be provided in an online, asynchronous format. Eight years of data have also shown that the completion of the B.S. degree through the online format has no effect on the proportion of students who complete graduate or professional degrees compared to a similar B.S. degree program that uses in-person lecturing. Our hope is that our approach can serve as a model to the nation to attract the many underrepresented students that all STEM programs need.