U.C. Berkeley is an outstanding research institution with a problem: a small percentage of underrepresented minority (URM) students are majoring in Biology, taking advantage of research in the Biological Sciences and graduating with Honors. In the past five years, less than 10% of the URM undergraduate population has graduated with a degree in Biology (Berkes, 2008). African-American and Chicano-Latino students participate in research in the STEM disciplines at alarmingly low rates - 7% and 13% respectively. Finally, URM students made up only 4% of all biological science Honors programs in the past five years. The objective of the U.C. Berkeley MARC U-STAR program is to bridge the gap between Berkeley's outstanding research environment and the untapped potential of URM students interested in the biological sciences. We will 1) provide effective tutoring and advising tailored to the backgrounds of our undergraduate scholars to improve their academic performance through the Biology Scholars Program (BSP), 2) expose the Scholars as freshmen and sophomores to the benefits, social relevance, excitement, and multiple career opportunities in biomedical research, and 3) reduce their financial constraints by employing them to conduct long-term independent research. The proposed U.C. Berkeley MARC program will consist of two major components: a pre-MARC program and the MARC Scholars program. The goal of the pre-MARC program will be to utilize the existing programmatic strengths of the Biology Scholars Program in addition to an innovative intensive research pre-course to generate a large pool of qualified and committed applicants to the MARC Scholars Program. The goal of the MARC Scholars program will be to produce a cohort of innovative leaders in the Biological Sciences who will be experts in lab techniques, but who will also have a deep understanding of the culture of research and the options available to them post-Ph.D. During the course of the proposed U.C. Berkeley MARC program, twenty-six underrepresented students will undergo the intensive research training and mentoring of the two-year MARC Scholars Program, and enroll in top-tier Ph.D. programs as innovative young scientists with a passion for teaching, service and research.
There is a staggering need to increase the number of biomedical researchers and faculty members from underrepresented backgrounds. The U.C. Berkeley MARC U-STAR program will generate 26 outstanding biomedical researchers from underrepresented backgrounds who will develop new technologies, identify novel drug compounds and create interventions to improve the health of their communities and the nation.
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