The Stony Brook University IMSD Maximizing Excellence in Research for Graduate Education (IMSD MERGE) aims to increase the number of underrepresented students (URM) completing highly productive biomedical sciences degrees at Stony Brook University, and prepare them for seamless advancement into successful research careers. Our previous successes in attracting and graduating UR students to our programs have transformed our focus beyond enrollment and degree production, to that of the quality of the academic experience and the long-term outcomes for our UR students. This program will benefit from a dual leadership model that combines two campus leaders in STEM education: an accomplished biomedical researcher and a faculty member nationally recognized for his science education and mentoring activities. We have also garnered significant expertise from 62 tenured faculty representing 12 biological and biomedical research areas (applied math, biochemistry, biomedical engineering, chemistry, computational biology, ecology and evolution, marine sciences, medicine, microbiology, neurobiology, pathology, pharmacology and physiology/biophysics). Our goals will be accomplished through enhanced and funded research opportunities for five new undergraduate students and direct financial support for five new doctoral students annually with provision for broader institutional impact. In close collaboration with the biomedical sciences faculty, particularly the research advisors of IMSD MERGE fellows, and departmental leadership, we will address critical issues that serve as impediments to training and career success for UR scientists with targeted preparation for key junctures in academic development to enhance persistence and performance outcomes. This project has the following three specific aims: 1) Increase to 70% the annual number of UR undergraduate students that are persisting in the biomedical science majors past their sophomore year for a total of 50 new biological sciences UR undergraduate majors in each class and ensure 80% of IMSD MERGE undergraduate scholars pursue doctoral study upon graduation through exposure to meaningful research experiences and professional development;2) Enhance our present efforts to provide academic enrichment and advancement skills for our incoming doctoral students to reach parity in performance with their non UR peers in core courses, qualifying exams and thesis proposal outcomes;and 3) Provide a rigorous professional development regimen for IMSD doctoral students with an emphasis on improving skills related to research project selection, design, and execution in order to increase a) the average number and quality of publications among UR students by 100% (to 2 publications) to achieve parity with the average publications among the non-UR students and b) the total number of UR students entering postdoctoral positions upon graduation from 46% to 65%. Our strong institutional commitment to the objectives of the proposed IMSD MERGE goes beyond the enthusiastic support of senior leadership and commitment of in-kind support. As stated in their letters of support, our President has made a $100,000 commitment to IMSD MERGE to be used for administrative and programmatic expenses not covered by the project budget;our Graduate Dean has committed two recruitment Teaching Assistant lines to support additional IMSD fellows, allowing us to train a total of 25 IMSD doctoral fellows over the initial project period. he program will also benefit from a strong network of collaborators on campus with numerous program leaders and faculty members serving on our Advisory Committee and subcommittees and strong support from our Provost on efforts to bring synergy to our activities across the campus. To further enhance the proposed research training program, we are instituting a Mentor Workshop, an Individualized Development Plan, and monthly networking opportunities with postdoctoral fellows and junior faculty.
This proposal aims to create a group of highly motivated, trained individuals who will pursue research careers in biomedical sciences. These scholars will be instrumental in the creation of new knowledge that will lead to discoveries that will improve our nation's health.