This proposal is to establish a MARC U-STAR program at Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU), a designated Hispanic Serving Institution located in Chicago, IL. NEIU is one the most diverse universities in the Midwest, and is the only 4-year public HSI in the Midwest. This strategic position of NEIU makes it imperative to enhance its regional leadership in training of underrepresented students in biomedical/ behavioral sciences, to improve their preparation for high-caliber Ph.D. programs. 5 This application proposes a comprehensive educational program comprising an innovative interdisciplinary curriculum that integrates quantitative sciences into the program of study of the STEM disciplines, diverse research experiences, and structured mentoring. The project's proposed goals are: Goal 1. To appropriately prepare undergraduate students with a particular emphasis on Under- Represented Minority students for admission into doctoral programs with biomedical and/or behavioral research focus. This will be accomplished through the following critical elements: (a) development of an academic curriculum that appropriately prepares URM students for graduate programs in biomedical and behavioral research, (b) immersion experiences that establish URMs as members of the scientific community and improve student's understanding of biomedical and behavioral research opportunities through research engagement and additional activities (e.g., peer leader experience, colloquia, graduate preparation workshops and outreach opportunities) and (c) financial support for trainees that will allow students to focus on their academic and research activities. Goal 2. To implement a pre-trainee MARC program that prepares pre-trainee MARC and other honor students for admission into doctoral programs with biomedical and/or behavioral research focus. Curriculum preparation for graduate school of our pre-MARC trainees will be the same as for our MARC trainees except that this will begin in the freshman and sophomore years. Goal 3. To enhance the curricular and mentoring infrastructure of STEM disciplines at NEIU by providing activities that integrate URMs into the scientific community. The methods for achieving goal three are through design and implementation of: a) The Quantitative Interdisciplinary STEM minor. This will be accomplished through the implementation of a newly developed and approved interdisciplinary STEM minor "Mathematical and Statistical Modeling of Complex Systems" that emphasizes the integration of quantitative/computational reasoning with other STEM disciplines. b) The Graduate school MARC initiative. We will create a MARC initiative for graduate school preparation. The proposed curriculum including a major in any of the STEM disciplines, the new Quantitative Interdisciplinary STEM minor, and all other MARC activities will be available to any student who wants to prepare for graduate school in biomedical and behavioral research.
Computational, quantitative and behavioral sciences are playing an increasingly important role in disease prevention and treatment. NEIU as the only four-year public Hispanic Serving Institution is in a unique position with MARC training funds to contribute to the national need of a diverse and highly trained workforce leading Nation's biomedical and behavioral research. The following elements were identified in our goals for a successful MARC program: (a) development of an academic curriculum that appropriately prepares URM students for graduate school in biomedical and behavioral research (see [Appendix A]), (b) immersion experiences that improve student's understanding of biomedical and behavioral research opportunities through research and activities that establish URM's membership in the scientific community and (c) financial support for trainees to free up their time to focus on training. The following list of activities for the program plan is designed to address each of these elements.