The proposed renewal and expansion of the current UWF MARC Scholars Program seeks to dramatically increase retention, academic performance, degree attainment, and graduate school matriculation rates among underrepresented biomedical minority students at the University of West Florida (UWF). The program is modeled after UWF?s Chemistry Scholars and current MARC Scholars Programs, inclusion programs modeled after the Meyerhoff Scholars Program at UMBC.17-18 These programs are designed to support high-potential underrepresented (UR) students who start college with an interest in STEM. Five years after establishing Chem Scholars, the ethnically UR Chemistry graduates have increased from an average 6% during 2009-2012 to an average 30% during 2012-2017. The percentage of ethnically UR students pursuing biomedically relevant PhD or MD-PhD degrees has increased from 0% during 2010-2012 to an average 60% in 2012-2017. Perhaps more impressive is the average past 5-year percentage of ethnically UR majors matriculating to PhD or MD/PhD programs exceeds the percentage of non-UR by 11%. NIH-funded MARC Scholars expanded the model into Biology and Physics in 2014 solely for ethnically UR students. To date, 15 ethnically UR MARC Scholars have been accepted, 89% of MARC Scholars (8 of the 9 MARC Scholars) graduated with a BS degree (Biology, Chemistry, and/or Physics), and 75% (6 of the 8) of MARC Scholar graduates have matriculated to PhD or MD-PhD programs and 1 MARC graduate is enrolled in a NIH-funded PREP. The proposed expanded MARC Scholars seeks to further expand the current MARC Scholars Program to also support financially disadvantaged UR students pursuing biomedical research careers. The proposed expanded program will continue to encompass the four major components of the model programs with several additions tailored specifically to UWF MARC Scholars. MARC Scholars will provide the following: 1) academic and social integration via the a 2-year research experience (on and off campus) and STEM Living Learning Community; 2) rigorous academic preparation via Writing, Critical Thinking and Professional Development workshops and seminar series tailored specifically for STEM and biomedical topics, a STEM Writing course, an RCR Course, and research experience both at UWF and R-1 institutions; 3) a support system implemented through MARC Scholars, ?intrusive advising,? and regulated mentoring and advising for both academic coursework, research, and MARC Scholars; and 4) preparation for MARC Scholars, matriculation to graduate school, and ultimately to a research career through individual development plans, application materials preparation, and resume building workshops. These resources are currently available only through NIH-funding of MARC Scholars specifically for high-achieving UR junior and senior students pursuing biomedical degrees at UWF and long-term research careers.

Public Health Relevance

Health concerns of the 21st century necessitate collaborative research efforts of an intelligent and skilled workforce. The diversity of professional research scientists can only result when all intelligent students are given the opportunity to ascertain their potential. The University of West Florida NIH MARC Scholars program will provide training opportunities and financial, academic, social, and professional support critical to recruitment and retention of underrepresented minorities necessary to broadening and diversifying the pipeline of talented biomedical students to ensure.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
MARC Undergraduate NRSA Institutional Grants (T34)
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Training and Workforce Development Subcommittee - D (TWD)
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Koduri, Sailaja
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University of West Florida
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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Kesharwani, Tanay; Giraudy, Krystal A; Morgan, Jordan L et al. (2017) Green Synthesis of Halogenated Thiophenes, Selenophenes and Benzo[b]selenophenes Using Sodium Halides as a Source of Electrophilic Halogens. Tetrahedron Lett 58:638-641