The goal of this proposal is to continue to implement the successful MARC-USTAR program at Queens College (QC) and further increase the number of students entering and completing a PhD program in STEM fields, and pursuing a research career. The program will continue to prepare students to formulate questions and generate creative ideas, to collaborate with others, to engage in productive research, and to understand how research is conducted and how it leads to improvements in health and scientific comprehension and cooperation across different disciplines. Toward this aim the program has achieved the goals it set from the beginning of the second grant in 2009, graduating 100% of MARC students with honors; 84 % of MARC students have continued to a higher degree, with 77% going directly into doctoral programs; publishing 10 student-authored papers; and developing programs that have inspired the College and led it to incorporate the program's innovations into College-wide programs. The MARC students at Queens College have won several prizes and been accepted into prestigious institutions. The program has nevertheless identified remaining weaknesses in the preparation and growth of its students. The rationale of the proposal is to continue the program's successful mentoring and heavy research involvement, while at the same time addressing the weaknesses, primarily students' doubt in the practicality of a research career path and lack of understanding of the overall expectations for researchers. The program implemented changes that were instrumental to its success in increasing the number of students entering doctoral programs and aims to continue with these practices. Continued improvement of program performance includes: first, expanding mentoring to include more facets of a research career to emphasize the many possibilities for a doctoral- level researcher; second, expanding outreach to the families of the students and more aggressively involving them in the highlights and ceremonies of the MARC experience; and third, initiating a ?talk across disciplines? discussion series in which students will learn how their research relates to questions from other disciplines, while in the process creating a more cohesive atmosphere and preparing the students for future flexibility. The program will also increase writing and presentation workshops, introduce a research seminar series on Translational Research and one on Careers in Research, and make other adjustments as suggested by formal and informal feedback from our students and faculty. The administration at Queens College is pleased with the program's progress and is eager to see the program expand. The proposed program is designed for 5 years, with 12 trainees per year (approximately 6 juniors and 6 seniors each year) for duration of 2 years for each trainee.
The MARC U- STAR program at Queens College is proposing to increase the number of underrepresented minority PhD-holding teachers and researchers by building on our current successful program and implementing new directions. This goal is important to develop a larger number of competent researchers and mentors, to add to the nation's potential and to inspire students from minority and financially disadvantaged backgrounds, a growing population whose recruitment will substantially improve health services for underserved communities. Our program is based on intense involvement of the students in research, total interaction of faculty in welfare of students, enhanced interaction with students and their families, intense advising and constant multifaceted self-evaluation.
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