We propose an interdisciplinary Initiative for Maximizing Student Diversity (IMSD) program that takes advantage of Virginia Tech's history of excellence in engineering and the life sciences to train doctoral students in the biomedical sciences. In addition to providing a structure that will attract and help retain students underrepresented in the biomedical sciences and engineering, the initiative will further strengthen Virginia Tech's (VT) pipeline of successful NSF and USDA doctoral training programs. The VT-IMSD will focus on recruiting and training scholars in five core research programs in which VT has excelled, including: (1) Genetics, Bioinformatics, and Computational Biology, (2) Biomedical Engineering, (3) Psychological Sciences, and (4) Molecular and Cellular Biology. The program will provide a research experience for outstanding undergraduate and graduate students. In addition to engaging in programs in fulfillment of their degree requirements, both the undergraduate and graduate students will participate in scientific and enrichment activities that include a weekly IMSD forum, a weekly program area seminar, a monthly multicultural assembly, and an annual research symposium. All the doctoral students will be required to take core classes that include Seminar, Effective Grant Writing, Statistics in Research, Principles of Biochemistry, Computation for the Life Sciences, and Preparing for the Professorate. This IMSD interdisciplinary program will build on successful minority recruitment, enrichment, retention and graduation programs at VT including: middle and high school student campus visitation programs, a pre-college initiative for Native Americans, a high school senior/parents visitation program, a 12-year-old Summer Research Experiences for Undergraduates in the Sciences and Engineering, an NSF-funded Alliance for Minority Participation program, a Department of Education-funded McNair Scholars program, a USDA-funded Multicultural Scholars'program for undergraduates, and an NIH-NIGMS-funded PREP program. As a baseline, for example, the Multicultural Academic Opportunities Program (MAOP) supported about 65 students through graduate assistantships in the Agriculture and Life Sciences and Human Development and Nutrition from 1995 through 2003 with a retention and graduation rate in excess of 80%. The MAOP and other programs form the foundation for the successful recruitment of outstanding students who will be selected as IMSD undergraduate and graduate scholars. Specific objectives of the proposed IMSD program include: (1) Recruit 5 VT-IMSD Ph.D. and 10 undergraduate scholars annually for training/education in the labs of outstanding VT researchers and award-winning educators;(2) Develop activities and programs that will enrich and motivate students to stay in school and to stay focused on the pursuit of research careers in the behavioral, veterinary and biomedical sciences and engineering;3) Create a critical mass in the five core disciplines of a diverse student body that is consistent with the Virginia Tech """"""""Principles of Community."""""""" Achieving these aims is made easier by recent developments at VT that pledge, through the """"""""Principles of Community,"""""""" a total commitment of the University administration, departmental leaders, and Board of Visitors to create a welcoming environment for all students, especially minorities. Consistent with this principle, the VT administration has pledged over $350,000 in direct support for IMSD program that includes tuition and stipend for 4 additional doctoral scholars. Other support, of approximately $120,000, has also been pledged for the recruitment activities and the IMSD forums to support speakers, meals at the forums, and the annual retreats.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
Education Projects (R25)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZGM1-MBRS-8 (IM))
Program Officer
Toliver, Adolphus
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Veterinary Sciences
Schools of Earth Sciences/Natur
United States
Zip Code
Leon, Ariel E; Hawley, Dana M (2017) Host Responses to Pathogen Priming in a Natural Songbird Host. Ecohealth 14:793-804
Padilla, Roberto; Rodriguez-Corrales, José A; Donohoe, Lauren E et al. (2016) A new class of Ru(II) polyazine agents with potential for photodynamic therapy. Chem Commun (Camb) 52:2705-8
Haac, Mary Etna; Anderson, Michelle A E; Eggleston, Heather et al. (2015) The hub protein loquacious connects the microRNA and short interfering RNA pathways in mosquitoes. Nucleic Acids Res 43:3688-700
Clark, Helen R; Hayes, Tristan A; Kale, Shiv D (2014) Characterizing and measuring endocytosis of lipid-binding effectors in mammalian cells. Methods Enzymol 535:103-19
Kwansa, Albert L; De Vita, Raffaella; Freeman, Joseph W (2014) Mechanical recruitment of N- and C-crosslinks in collagen type I. Matrix Biol 34:161-9
Diaz, Anjolii; Bell, Martha Ann (2012) Frontal EEG asymmetry and fear reactivity in different contexts at 10 months. Dev Psychobiol 54:536-45
Vogt, William C; Izquierdo-Roman, Alondra; Nichols, Brandon et al. (2012) Effects of mechanical indentation on diffuse reflectance spectra, light transmission, and intrinsic optical properties in ex vivo porcine skin. Lasers Surg Med 44:303-9
Lewis, Stephanie N; Brannan, Lera; Guri, Amir J et al. (2011) Dietary ?-eleostearic acid ameliorates experimental inflammatory bowel disease in mice by activating peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-?. PLoS One 6:e24031
Izquierdo-Roman, Alondra; Vogt, William C; Hyacinth, Leeanna et al. (2011) Mechanical tissue optical clearing technique increases imaging resolution and contrast through ex vivo porcine skin. Lasers Surg Med 43:814-23
Diaz, Anjolii; Bell, Martha Ann (2011) Information processing efficiency and regulation at five months. Infant Behav Dev 34:239-47

Showing the most recent 10 out of 13 publications