The overall aim of this competitive continuation proposal for the SDSU MARC-U*STAR is to increase the number of students from underrepresented groups who attain Ph.D. degrees in the biomedical, behavioral, quantitative, and physical sciences. We will offer a program of graduate school preparation that includes: mentored research experiences by dedicated research mentors, so that MARC scholars acquire excellent research and laboratory skills and contribute to manuscripts leading to presentations and publications;workshops, professional development and an academic curriculum designed to develop critical thinking, quantitative, and oral and written communication skills;and opportunities to present research before professional audiences. We will work with the myriad student development projects organized under the Center for the Advancement of Students in Academia (CASA), in the College of Sciences (COS). CASA has developed into a mature program of student support through working collaboratively with extramurally funded student programs and leveraging internal SDSU and COS support. Collaboration with other student success programs in Division of Undergraduate Studies (DUS) will establish a sustainable Pre-MARC program that will identify and recruit freshmen and sophomores majoring in STEM disciplines and provide them with experiences to enhance their engagement in science while developing their capacity to address disciplinary and interdisciplinary scientific questions. Through Pre-MARC activities, the pool of students eligible and ready to apply to MARC scholars will be increased. By partnering with programs that have similar or synergistic objectives, we expect the SDSU MARC program will continue to further the goal of increasing the numbers of underrepresented scientists who are competitively trained to pursue careers in biomedical or behavioral research. A strong evaluation component that includes comparisons against baseline data will provide evidence-based documentation of student success and we will use such evaluative data and feedback to continue to improve our outcomes. Our training program will result in students with strong, highly competitive applications for doctoral training programs such that 60% our graduating seniors will enter directly into Ph.D. programs in the biomedical, behavioral and/or physical sciences in the first year, with 5% increase each year thereafter, resulting in 80% entering doctoral program by the end of the funding cycle in 2014.
The need to increase underrepresented students trained in bio-medically related STEM disciplines is underscored by the profound disparity in health status among racial and ethnic minorities. The cause of the disparities is complex and no doubt the result of biological, environmental and behavioral factors compounded by economic and educational inequities. Demographic changes anticipated over the next 2-3 decades magnify the importance of addressing health disparities.
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