STEMCats Community

About the STEMCats Community

STEMCats, sponsored by HHMI, is designed to help students succeed at UK in STEM majors. This LLP is intended for students interested in pre-professional fields such as medicine, dentistry, pharmacy as well as students interested in conducting research. The program prepares students both academically and socially through participation in FastTrack, research opportunities, and a special careers seminar course. Students participating in STEMCats will build confidence, enthusiasm, satisfaction and a sense of belonging at UK, and experience a smoother transition to college coursework. This leads to improved performance and higher academic achievement.

Student Profile

STEMCats is open to all incoming freshmen with a major or interest in STEM. Any student in a STEM major (science, technology, engineering or math) or an interest in conducting research their freshmen year is encouraged to apply.

Learning outcomes

  • Create lasting bonds with peers, faculty and staff so students develop social, academic and research networks.
  • Develop effective study habits to deftly and successfully make progress toward degree.
  • Streamline their transition to the college-level academic rigor and expectations through preparatory coursework (FastTrack) in math, biology, chemistry and pre-sophomore preparatory course work in physics.
  • Participate in activities to help acclimatize to college academic rigor and social life.
  • Improve retention and achievements via fostering a supportive learning community.


All students who participate in STEMCats will reside in Woodland Glen II, located on central campus along with the new Academic Science Building, The 90, The Study and the W.T. Young Library.


  • FastTrack is a week-long, intensive program designed especially for incoming, first-year students giving them an early start in their math and science courses. All STEMCats students will participate in FastTrack.
  • Bi-Weekly “fun science” interactive activities conducted by faculty.
  • Causal, bi-weekly non-academic social events with leaders in the STEM community from UK, Lexington, Kentucky.
  • Organized study groups led by live-in Peer Mentors and Undergraduate Instructional Assistants
  • Site visits to research labs


The first one-credit hour course taken in the fall semester, BIO 101: Careers and Research in Math and Science, will give early exposure to the fascinations and endless possibilities of STEM disciplines, modern trends and applications in medicine, pre-professional fields and an introduction to science research. Students will learn about the diverse STEM careers available. Students will gain hands-on experiences and interact with successful leaders in the STEM disciplines. Course meetings will be conducted by research faculty from across campus, invited external STEM experts, recent alumni, STEM-based entrepreneurs, civic leaders, policy makers and state STEM educators and administrators. This course will be team-facilitated highlighting “team science” and interdisciplinary approaches. This course will be taught in the classroom and on-site visits.

The second two-credit hour course taken in the spring semester, BIO 199, will give you early exposure to research. Students will learn from authentic research in this first year course. Students will meet twice a week in a laboratory which is mentored by one or several faculty members. All students will be required to do research projects and make a small group presentation in UK’s Undergraduate Research Showcase.

Peer Mentor Job Description