We propose, through MARC U-STAR, to enhance the ability of California State University, Los Angeles to be a major national contributor to the training of diverse biomedical research leadership for the next generation and beyond. We have reverse-engineered a training program from the characteristics of the most successful biomedical science PhD students at major research universities. This program builds on and extends our prior accomplishments and will result in the training of talented honors-caliber undergraduates with the qualities, achievements, habits of mind and commitment necessary for success in top PhD programs, prestigious postdoctoral appointments, high profile research careers, and professional leadership. The MARC Research Training Program is composed of: 1) participation in two years of mentored laboratory research; 2) participation in an Annual Biomedical Research Retreat; 3) a solid undergraduate curriculum enhanced by new courses and the Undergraduate Academic Minor in Research; 4) participation in workshops to enhance the curriculum; 5) an extensive program of improving the Trainee?s scientific writing; 6) solid academic and career advisement; 7) participation in establishing support networks to enhance success; 8) leadership development; and 9) participation in scientific seminars. By design, our MARC U-STAR Program puts emphasis on training our MARC Trainees to formulate, develop and improve their own significant questions about their research projects, and the conversion of these into testable hypotheses. We will deliberately and appropriately shift research training into a more question- driven mode. Questioning is at the core of science. MARC Trainees will be explicitly taught how to generate good questions, and to improve these to create significant questions. By developing skill in formulating significant questions, students gain confidence and strengthen their own scientific voice. Critical skills and attributes grow and develop over time through iterative and progressive introduction of important concepts. These are introduced multiple times and in different venues and formats over the two years that students participate in MARC, with progressively greater sophistication, and with sufficient time between introductions so that students can practice and grow on their own during the intervals. Building disciplinary and research competence first, and then excellence, requires exceptional effort, even from highly talented and motivated MARC students. A deeper understanding of research as an intellectual, practical, philosophical, and creative process is required to achieve excellence. Competence and excellence are necessary for individuals to authentically achieve confidence and identify as a scientist. We test the hypothesis that students that are skilled in integrating into their research group, department, and other social networks can draw upon these support structures during difficult times. We will provide opportunities for MARC trainees to establish and develop positive professional and social networks as undergraduates, a skill we anticipate will continue in graduate school, contributing to greater PhD completion rates. We will also test the hypothesis that family members will be better allies to MARC Trainees in PhD degree completion if they are informed about the training process; and of the value to their sons and daughters, to the community, and to the nation of achieving their research career goals and aspirations.
The solution of the nation?s biomedical problems requires the participation by our most creative and talented scientist from all of the country?s diverse populations. The California State University, Los Angeles MARC U- STAR project will develop its most talented and motivated underrepresented science undergraduates for success in top PhD programs, making available a broad diversity of intellectual perspectives available to improve public health through research.
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