A diverse educational and scientific community is a vital component for developing a robust work force that can address the technological and social challenges of the U.S. in a new global economy. However, the access of students from disadvantaged social and economic backgrounds to graduate education (Ph.D. level) is still low in comparison with individuals from more privileged socioeconomic groups. This disparity is amplified during academic life, resulting in a lack of faculty diversity at most U.S. universities.To address this problem, the Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD) program was established in 2008 at UCSD, which focuses on motivating, mentoring, and facilitating the transition of students from disadvantaged economic and social backgrounds and students with disabilities from college to graduate school. The UCSD-IMSD program is composed of three consecutive phases directed at mentoring students from their initial college education to the awarding of a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences. Phase 1 is directed at introducing freshmen students with no or limited prior research experience to scientific work via fundamental experimental instruction within the Basic Methodology Training Laboratory (BMTL). In this setting, students learn the essential research principles and skills (laboratory safety, basic techniques, data collection, and analysis) that will prepare them to participate in organized research projects. During Phase 2, students participate in hands-on, bench research projects under the mentorship of established, well-funded investigators. Thus, students are trained in several aspects of science, including experimental design, execution, data analysis and presentations, increasing their competitiveness as graduate school candidates. In addition, students are motivated to enroll into Ph.D. programs and assisted during the process. Students that are accepted in a UCSD graduate program (Phase 3) are mentored toward the completion of the Ph.D. work, are assisted in the application to fellowships and informed about various research careers, with special emphasis on postdoctoral training.
The objective of this application is to motivate, mentor, and facilitate the transition of students from disadvantaged economic and social backgrounds, and students with disabilities into Ph.D. programs via a program that includes training, mentoring, and economical support.
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