The goal of the University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass) Initiative for Maximizing Student Development is to significantly increase the number of underrepresented minority (URM) doctoral students who complete Ph.D. degrees and postdoctoral fellowships, and become leaders in biomedical and behavioral science research. To accomplish this goal, our aims are to: 1) Enhance recruitment of well-prepared URM students for Ph.D. programs by nurturing existing partnerships with minority-serving institutions through new collaborative research initiatives. Our Partners in Research program will bring URM Partner faculty and undergraduates to laboratories at UMass for extended summer visits and our Partner Visiting Professors will bring Partner faculty back to UMass for year-long sabbaticals. In addition, UMass faculty and senior IMSD doctoral students will present seminars and workshops at Partner Institutions. Other recruiting initiatives will include an IMSD Graduate Preview Weekend at UMass and national promotion of our IMSD. 2) Enhance retention and preparation of IMSD Scholars through stage-specific funding, mentoring and professional development activities at the Transition, Achieving Candidacy and Beyond the Doctorate Stages. 3) Develop, reward and disseminate models for fostering an environment of inclusiveness. Our program will be led by five research-active faculty PIs who are well positioned to engage their colleagues in IMSD activities. In addition, our IMSD is strongly supported by the Provost who will sponsor an annual Diversity Conference to discuss progress, problems and new strategies for diversifying the biomedical and behavioral graduate student body and faculty.
The underrepresentation of U.S. minorities, a growing segment of the population in the biomedical and behavioral research workforce increases reliance on international talent and exacerbates healthcare disparities among racial and socioeconomic groups. Our IMSD will directly address this issue through novel programs that enhance recruitment, retention and preparation of underrepresented minority doctoral student to be leaders in biomedicine and behavioral science disciplines.