A diverse educational and scientific community is a vital component for developing a robust work force that can address the technological and social challenges of the U.S. in a new global economy. However, the access of students from disadvantaged social and economic backgrounds to graduate education (Ph.D. level) is still low in comparison with individuals from more privileged socioeconomic groups. This disparity is amplified during academic life, resulting in a lack of faculty diversity at most U.S. universities. To address this problem, the Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD) program was established in 2008 at the University of California San Diego (UCSD), which focuses on motivating, mentoring, and facilitating the transition of students from disadvantaged economic and social backgrounds and students with disabilities from college to graduate school. The UCSD-IMSD program is composed of two consecutive phases directed at mentoring students from their initial college education to enrolling into a Ph.D. program in biomedical sciences. Phase 1 is directed at introducing freshmen students with no or limited prior research experience to scientific work via fundamental experimental instruction within the Basic Methodology Training Laboratory (BMTL). In this setting, students learn the essential research principles and skills (laboratory safety, basic techniques, data collection, and analysis) that will prepare them to participate in organized research projects. During Phase 2, students participate in hands-on, bench research projects under the mentorship of established, well-funded investigators, where they develop an appetite for science. Students are trained in several aspects of science, including experimental design, execution, data analysis and presentations, increasing their competitiveness as graduate school candidates. In addition, students are motivated to enroll into Ph.D. programs and are assisted during the process.
The overall objective of this application is to mentor, train and facilitate the admission of students from ethnic groups that are under-represented in science, students from disadvantaged economic and social backgrounds, and students with disabilities into Ph.D. programs via a two-phase process that includes basic training, motivation, and professional development.
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