FIU is a public, research institution (RU/H) located in Miami. It has an enrollment of ~50,000 students (>73% UR), emphasizes research in its mission and includes health and diversity as strategic themes. FIU provides an excellent opportunity to develop a significant number of well-rounded, underrepresented (UR) scientists for biomedical research careers. In 2007, FIU launched a rigorous pilot biological sciences curriculum for freshmen called Quantifying Biology in the classroom (QBIC). Having impressively graduated three freshman-through-senior cohorts of graduates, QBIC successfully passed all academic and administrative evaluation and review steps, and is now institutionalized, beginning Fall 2013, as a Quantitative Biology Track in FIU's Biological Sciences Department. QBIC offers a pool of talented & exceptionally prepared scholars for FIU's MARC U*STAR Program. For each year of our proposed 5-year grant period, we request funding to support 8 juniors, through graduation, for two years (totaling 40), who will be selected from a pool of talented and well-prepared honors students in QBIC and traditional curricula, since not all of our talented students are in QBIC. QBIC is a 4-year program developed by FIU's biological sciences, statistics, mathematics, chemistry, physics, computer science and biomedical engineering faculty. It is an integrated lock-step cohort block program where students take classes together, and courses within blocks have identified & coordinated areas of overlapping synergy. Scholars get to see how biological data is analyzed, how mathematics can model biological processes, and teaching units show them how sound biological theories are generated. Part 1 (freshmen & sophomores) integrates calculus & statistics with biology, genetics, ecology & chemistry using a Teaching Pentagon; Part 2 (juniors & seniors), offers tailored-upper level courses. MARC U*STAR trainees will actively participate in directed scientific research & enrichment activities that include modeling workshops, journal club activities, professional development workshops, science cafes, scientific presentations & participation in extramural research. Thus, the three-prong short and long term goals and measurable objectives for FIU's MARC U*STAR Program include: (1) provide motivated, honors students with the tools & skills that allow them to be academically competitive & successful; (2) immerse them in supportive & stimulating research environments with activities that enhance & nurture their interest in science, (3) increase the number of UR who continue on to, excel in and complete biomedical or behavioral sciences Ph.D. or MD/PhD programs.
FIU's MARC U*STAR Program proposes to provide motivated, honors undergraduate juniors and seniors from underrepresented groups (racial or ethnic minorities, individuals with disabilities, or economic challenges) with tools, skills and a sense of belonging that will allow each to successfully enter, excel in and complete a biomedical or behavioral sciences Ph.D. or MD/PhD program. This will be accomplished by immersing each MARC USTAR trainee in a supportive & stimulating research lab of an active researcher who has a successful undergraduate mentoring record, and who pays attention to individual student needs in order to properly nurture and enhance the trainee's particular interest in science. Also, we will supplement the trainees' FIU scientific research experience with professional development workshops, seminars, opportunities for scientific presentations, & participation in a summer research program at an additional research-intensive university.
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