The Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD) at the University of Massachusetts Boston (UMB) is a multifaceted program that seeks to increase diversity in the biomedical research workforce at the PhD level. The program has two overall goals. The first is to provide a comprehensive research training program to undergraduate students from underrepresented minority or disadvantaged backgrounds so they are exceptionally prepared and highly motivated to enter PhD programs in the biomedical sciences. The second, broader goal is to catalyze institutional changes that enhance the overall research training environment in the sciences for undergraduate students, particularly those from underrepresented or disadvantaged backgrounds. The IMSD program provides its participants with research experiences, intensive mentoring, a comprehensive and structured suite of enrichment activities, and support in the application process for PhD programs, all to promote their successful entry into these programs. The centerpiece of the IMSD student experience is laboratory research?each participant carries out a closely guided research project, which supports the development of research independence, in the laboratory of a research advisor. Mentoring includes academic advising as well as support for the students' overall professional and personal development as emerging researchers. Enrichment opportunities, which also engage the broader community of science majors at the University, include extensive training in scientific communication, opportunities to network with scientists and graduate students outside UMB, exposure to research career opportunities, training in the responsible conduct of research, and discussions about social aspects of science. To catalyze institutional change, IMSD offers activities that are aimed at reaching the maximum number of undergraduate students, as well as mentor training opportunities for science faculty and graduate students. IMSD also interfaces with a wide network of training programs at the University and is taking a leadership role in developing, evaluating, and modeling effective research training strategies that can be applied broadly in the University. It also nurtures collaborations with institutional partners outside UMB. In efforts to sustain enhancements to the research training environment and capacity, IMSD has successfully institutionalized many of its programmatic components and is committed to institutionalizing additional aspects that prove to be effective in helping UMB students achieve academic excellence in the sciences and transition to graduate study. These efforts can have broad impact given the highly diverse student population at UMB and the very significant proportion of its students who come from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Public Health Relevance

The continuation of ?Initiative for Maximizing Student Development at UMass Boston? program will provide increased numbers of underrepresented minority students at the undergraduate level with intensive research training and other academic enrichment activities. The enriching activities and interventions put forward by IMSD at UMB is working to trigger institutional changes beyond the cohorts of participants and beyond the timeframe of the program. Our program aims to change the institutional culture in ways that lead to increased faculty and student diversity and overall enhanced success of UR students at UMB and in the region.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
Education Projects (R25)
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NIGMS Initial Review Group (TWD)
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Ravichandran, Veerasamy
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University of Massachusetts Boston
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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