The NRSA-MARC U*STAR Program at Alabama State University (ASU) supports the NIH/NIGMS/MORE Division goal to increase the number of researchers from groups underrepresented in biomedical/behavioral research. ASU is the state's 2nd largest 4-year, public historically black college/university (HBCU) and is located in Montgomery, the capitol city with the unique and paradoxical distinction of serving both as the Cradle of the Confederacy and the Birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement. The institutional track record for science graduates completing doctorate degrees is solid - 14 ASU B.S. degree graduates earned science doctorates over the 2000-2006 period;another 12 are currently in the science doctorate pipeline. The outcome goal of the MARC U*STAR Program at ASU is to increase the institutional number of graduates completing science doctorate degrees by at least 15%. Funds are requested to support nine (9) MARC U*STAR trainees annually over the 2008 - 2013 proposed grant period. The MARC U*STAR Program at ASU has been designed to improve the "PhD readiness" of the university's undergraduate scientific training pool. Based upon extensive evaluation of institutional and program data, 3 process goals executed through 6 measurable objectives propose to focus upon 1) rigorous gateway courses, 2) a selection system strengthened by quantitative talent and motivation assessments, 3) enhancement of defined cognitive and developmental skills, 4) comprehensive laboratory research training, 5) commitment of appropriate institutional services and authorities, and 6) student outcomes-focused evaluation designed to ultimately measure the program's long-term impact upon the professional progression of program graduates. Academic activities are level-specific for the ASU science pipeline and include remodeling of gateway "entry" courses, development of education plans, a proactive progress reporting system, and an Academic Assistance Network to facilitate appropriate learning interventions. Enhancement of technical writing, quantitative and verbal skills will be conducted and assessed through curricular and skill-specific workshop activities. Pre-professional development skills will be improved through topic-specific workshops and seminars with scientists;several are ASU graduates. The Research Triangle is an excellent research training model for ASU's mid-sized faculty research program. This component features continuous research experiences for trainees with ASU faculty collaborating with scientists at research institutions on original research projects. Three standing committees will steer the advisory, curricular and research functions of the program. A relational data management system will improve the evaluation and tracking capacities of the program. This well-conceived program design will significantly contribute to ASU's continued success toward preparing underrepresented scientists for the U.S. scientific research workforce.
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