Grambling State University (GSU), an HBCU, is primarily a teaching institution with limited research infrastructure and capabilities. However, part of the vision of the university is to produce graduates who "have acquired skills and knowledge in major academic disciplines that afford them the option of graduate or professional schools". The institution, therefore, fully supports efforts to increase the number of its graduate who enroll in, and successfully complete Ph.D. programs particularly in the sciences. The goal of this MARC renewal application is to increase the number of MARC participants who, upon graduation, directly pursue Ph.D. programs in biomedical sciences from the current baseline of 17 (47%) to 25 (60%) by the end of the project period in 2018. In addition, the MARC program projects to double the number of its MARC graduates who complete Ph.D. from the baseline of one/year by May 2018. These two goals will be achieved through the implementation of the following activities. Accomplishment of the two goals is feasible because of the foundation established during earlier cycles and the continued commitment of project faculty and the administration. Twelve slots per year are requested. Seven activities are proposed. These activities were developed based on lessons learned from evaluation of earlier cycles, feedback from faculty, current and former MARC participants. B. ACTIVITIES 1. Implement rigorous math and science curricula which include advanced courses, research seminars and symposia, Ethics in Scientific Research course, and independent scientific literature review that enhance critical and analytical skills. 2. Incorporate mathematical concepts and quantitative methods in analyzing biological processes for an interdisciplinary mode of learning. 3. Increase research skills of MARC students by strengthening and expanding existing strategies for participation in extramural summer research internships (SRI) and classroom research. 4. Demonstrate effective communication skills by writing research abstracts, presenting (oral or written) research work completed during SRI, and critiquing two published research articles. 5. Increase the pool of MARC applicants from the baseline of 40 to 80 students by providing opportunities for non-MARC STEM students to participate in selected MARC activities. 6. Increase STEM students'two years retention rate from 49% to 60% and increase their graduation rate from 29% to 50% by providing a support system that improves student GPA and ensures enrollment in subsequent semesters. 7. Increase the number of MARC graduates admitted to Ph.D. programs in biomedical sciences from the current baseline of 47% to 60% by end of project cycle and track their progress in graduate schools/research careers for a ten-year period after graduation. The proposed evaluation plan links quantitative indicators of success to specific measurable objectives for each activity, and also provides plans for qualitative and quantitative assessment of major program components to facilitate the assessment of overall institutional impact of the MARC program at GSU. It is feasible to implement the proposed activities because of the commitment of faculty, GSU administration, and collaborating extramural research preceptors. Successful implementation of the proposed activities will meet the needs of the participating departments, support the mission and vision of GSU, and fulfill the expectation of the Division of Training, Workforce Development, and Diversity Division (TWD) of NIGMS/NIH.
The proposed MARC project at Grambling State University (GSU) is relevant to the mission of the National Institutes of Health addressing public health issues through research and training. This relevance is reflected by the fact that the MARC project trains underrepresented students as well as groups of persons disproportionately affected by health disparities. The purpose of the proposed renewal project is to train underrepresented students to be competitive for admission to Ph.D. programs in biomedical sciences at research intensive institutions.