Minority Access to Research Careers-Undergraduate Student Training for Academic Research (MARC-U*STAR) Program
Information for Current MARC-U*STAR Scholars
Congratulations on your selection as a MARC-U*STAR Fellow. This is the premier honors research training program on campus, and your selection is a measure of the confidence your professors have in your talents and promise for success in a research career.
Responsibilities of Program Participants
It is the responsibility of MARC-U*STAR Fellows to succeed academically and make a strong effort in the research laboratory.
It is the responsibility of MARC Faculty Research Directors to provide scientific leadership to make your laboratory research experience meaningful and productive. They are also committed to serving as academic and career advisors to their MARC Fellows.
It is the responsibility of the MARC-U*STAR Program Administration to provide resources and leadership to maximize your efforts to achieve success in biomedical research and completion of the B.S./ B.A. with a high level of achievement, so that you are competitive to win admission to top Ph.D. programs in biomedical and behavioral science disciplines.
|Tenure in the Cal State LA MARC-U*STAR Program
A student's tenure in the program to completion of the B.S./B.A. degree is a maximum of 24 months in the Junior and Senior years. These are fellowship limits set by our funding agency, the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health.
There are two very important linked goals of the MARC program: 1) your academic progress, and 2) the progress of the research project in which you participate. The expectation is that by participating in a research group performing contemporary biomedical research, your academic achievements will be enhanced. The goal of the MARC Program is to increase the pool of talented minority individuals who will eventually take leadership positions in biomedical research and related disciplines. To this end, your academic success as a participant in the program is essential: strong performance in your undergraduate major program is necessary for admission to a strong Ph.D. program. Students are reminded that admission to graduate programs generally requires a 3.00 GPA minimum, and higher for stronger programs. The higher your GPA beyond 3.00, the more competitive will be your application to graduate school.
The National Institutes of Health requires that MARC Student Fellows be enrolled full time at Cal State LA, and that satisfactory progress towards graduation be made by participants. Fellows whose GPA drops below 3.00 will be placed on probation and be given two academic quarters to bring it back above that level. If at that time the GPA is not above 3.00, the student will be disqualified from the Fellowship.
Be sure that you take exams required by the University, such as the Writing Proficiency Exam (WPE), in a timely fashion. The MARC program is bound by University regulations, and if you are not allowed to register any given quarter because you have not completed the requirement by the University-set deadline, your continuation in MARC is also in jeopardy.
If you plan on taking more than 16 units, you must get a memo from Dr. Gutierrez or Dr. Fratiello requesting permission from the registrar and Dean Soltz for an overload prior to your registration date.
Your academic progress is monitored by quarterly reports which are made available by the Registrar to the MARC Program by computer link through the OASIS system. You may be interested in reading the document Some Hints on Achieving Academic Success.
The MARC program is funded by a research training grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and its primary mission is the creation of new, original knowledge within the biomedical natural and behavioral sciences. There are some 25 research laboratories involved in the Cal State LA MARC program. MARC-U*STAR students have done very well in research (as evidenced by the large number of research publications and presentations in which they are co-authors; cf. MARC-U*STAR Student Publications and Presentations) and are well prepared to enter graduate programs.
As you are Fellows of the National Institutes of Health, there is no set number of hours you must work in the research lab. MARC-U*STAR Students usually work full time (40 hours per week) during the summer (or during their quarter off) when they have no class commitments, and some 15 hours per week during the academic year. You need to communicate with your research director so that his/her expectations for your participation in research are clear.
A special feature of the MARC program is the opportunity to spend at least one summer working at another research institution. Many Ph.D.-granting research universities have organized summer research programs for talented undergraduates. Our MARC Fellows have participated in summer research at UC Berkeley, UCLA, USC, Stanford, Harvard, Yale, and others. Plan well in advance for this opportunity. Deadlines are generally from late January to late February for research positions the following summer. Please talk to Ms. Kubo-Anderson regarding deadlines for specific programs in which you may be interested.
There is also the opportunity to do summer research in a laboratory in a foreign country. Cal State LA MARC-U*STAR students have worked in Japan, Brazil, and England through the Minority International Research Training Program.
If your academic major department has an on-going honors program, as a MARC student you are expected to participate in that program.
|Participation in Departmental Honors Program
The MARC program also requires that prior to graduation you write an honors thesis describing the research you have done under MARC auspices. This thesis will be presented and defended before a panel of faculty. Most departmental honors programs also have a thesis requirement, and your MARC thesis will meet this departmental requirement.
The MARC-U*STAR Program hosts a weekly seminar series in cooperation with the Cal State LA Minority Biomedical Research Support-Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (MBRS-RISE) Program, and the two Bridges to the Future Programs, which is held most Friday afternoons (2:00 PM) during the academic year and occasionally during the summer.
|Biomedical Sciences Seminar Series
The goal of the seminar series is to expose the MARC-U*STAR Fellows, and the Cal State LA scientific community as a whole, to a wide range of biomedical scientists representing various disciplines, with the intent of broadening the student research coworkers' scientific perspective. The presenters, which have included former Cal State LA MARC and MBRS students, are leaders in their scientific disciplines, and are frequently minority scientists. The seminars provide exposure to a range of academic and industrial biomedical scientists. Also integrated into the series are presentations by more advanced undergraduates and graduate students. A schedule of the seminars for the current term is available online at Biomedical Sciences Seminar Series (this seminar schedule site also includes biographical information about the seminar speaker, an abstract of the presentation, and recent references you may want to read as background for the seminar). These seminars are an integral part of the MARC-U*STAR program and attendance is mandatory.
Throughout your tenure, the MARC-U*STAR Program will host a variety of workshops, seminars, and short courses designed to enhance your background in the sciences, and better prepare you for a research career. These will be scheduled to be complementary to your academic course load.
|Special Workshops and Seminars
Your research director recognizes that part of his/her job is to serve as academic and career advisor. A good advisor will be an ally in helping you make your way through your academic program with high achievement in a reasonable length of time, and with most of your humor and sanity intact. You should see your official academic advisor in your department at least once a quarter. Ideally this individual will be your MARC-U*STAR research director. However, if you feel you need additional advice beyond what one faculty member provides, seek out other advisors.
|Academic and Career Advisement
As soon as possible, but not later than the fifth week of your first quarter in the MARC program, you must submit to the MARC program office a quarter-by-quarter MARC-U*STAR Fellow Program Plan which outlines the courses you plan to take from the time you enter MARC to graduation. This, of course, may change with time. Any decision concerning your academic program for any quarter must be made only after consultation with your advisor.
The ability to write well is among the most valuable skills one can develop in support of a successful career, and is invaluable for scientific work. It is through the written word that we communicate ideas in grant proposals, report progress, and publish completed studies. We have secured the services of two graduate students in the English department to work with MARC-U*STAR, RUSH, and MBRS-RISE students to develop writing skills. The Writing Center is run by Ximena Hernandez in Biological Sciences 161. Contact them to begin work on improving your writing. They will not write for you, but they will critique your writing and work with you so you learn to write better. Be sure to give yourself enough lead-time, so that you may go through several drafts before the final document is turned in to a professor (such as a class paper) or research director (such as a research report).
We view tutoring as a valuable performance enhancement tool. Use tutors to help you get better understanding of the subject matter, and consequently of enhanced academic achievement. Be sure to establish good relationships with your instructors, so that you can use them as a resourceduring their office hours. Also take advantage of the (generally free) tutoring provided by the Learning Resources Center, the Chemistry & Biochemistry Club, the Biology Club, the Department of Physics, and others. More advanced members of your research group may also be good tutors in courses they have already completed successfully. Enlist their help.
The MARC-U*STAR program has a limited fund for tutors beyond the sources above. If you need the assistance of a tutor, we can help defray the cost. We have located some tutors and maintain a list in BS 160, the MORE Programs Office. You may, however, find your own tutor. We can pay up to $15.00 per hour for tutoring; beyond that you must pay the difference. If you are interested in taking advantage of this, please see Vicki Kubo-Anderson, MARC Program Coordinator before your tutoring starts, so that arrangements to pay your tutor can be made.
The University Registrar has granted MARC-U*STAR Students priority registration. Your name and SID have been sent to the Registrar. Please be sure that you are aware of deadlines for payment of fees and for priority registration. The priority registration periods during the current academic year are available at Priority Registration Periods.
Your registration fees are paid by the program for three academic quarters per year. Please see Vicki Kubo-Anderson.
|Graduate Record Examination
A major goal of the MARC-U*STARand behavioral program is to increase the pool of talented minority scientists who earn the Ph.D. and enter biomedical research careers. In support of this goal we have secured funds to provide a GRE preparation course through Kaplan Testing Services. The Program will also pay fees associated with the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) for those individuals applying to Ph.D. programs. If you plan to take the graduate record exam this year, please let us know as soon as possible so that we may have a check issued to the Educational Testing Service, which administers the GRE. Lisa Bautista, MORE Programs Administrative Assistant, (PS 628) maintains software (for Mac and for IBM) which contains a sample GRE general exam. You are welcome to borrow the diskettes. The GRE is offered on-line throughout the year. You should visit the Graduate Record Exam web site at www.gre.org to get information about the exam.
A significant advantage of the program is the availability of funds to pay for your travel expenses to professional meetings to present research results and to interact with other investigators in your research area. The decision of which meeting(s) to attend must be made in consultation with your research director. Since meetings are announced months in advance, be sure that your travel arrangements are made as early as possible so we may get the best rates on airfare and hotels. The funds we have available for travel are limited, so the more wisely we use them, the more student travel we can accommodate.
Discuss with your faculty research director your interest in attending a scientific meeting, and if he/she approves, have them complete and send to Vicki Kubo-Anderson, a travel request form (available online at MARC-U*STAR Travel Request Form) at least one month in advance, or earlier if the meeting has an earlier registration deadline. Several weeks in advance of your approved travel, you will want to talk to Ms. Kubo-Anderson, to confirm that your reservations and meeting registration are in order prior to travel.
Besides air transportation and lodging, MARC-U*STAR provides for meals ($32/day), incidental costs ($5/day after the first 24 hours), and ground transportation (variable) for each complete day (7 a.m. - 6 p.m.) you are away from home. Partial travel day amounts are prorated.
Travel to meetings during the summer or between quarters is preferred to travel during an academic quarter. There is an opportunity cost: if you are traveling, you are not on campus keeping up with your classes. In any event, you are responsible for high academic achievement. Because of the time demands, travel during an academic quarter by any student with less than a GPA of 3.0 is discouraged.
The MARC-U*STAR program office will, on request, contact your instructors to let them know you will miss some classes during the period of your trip. This information is also collected on your MARC-U*STAR Travel Request Form. The letters will be generated and distributed to your instructors two weeks before you travel.
|Payment of Fellowship Stipend
Student Fellows receive a stipend of $9,492 per year in 12 monthly payments of $791.The University Auxiliary Services (UAS), the accounting enterprise which handles all fiscal transactions for grants, has established a procedure for the payment of monthly stipends. Your research director has stipend certification forms for each month you are in the program, certifying that you are in good standing with the University and the program. He/she will give it to you around the 18th of each month. You then must turn the form in to UAS Accounting (Admin 308) by the 20th of the month, so they may issue a check by the first of the next month.
MARC students are eligible to purchase faculty/staff parking permits. You should get from Vicki Kubo-Anderson a copy of the authorizing memo (from campus police), which you will have to present to the cashier.
|MARC-U*Star Program Evaluation
The MARC-U*STAR Program is evaluated by the Program Evaluation and Research Collaborative (PERC). The goal here is to use the results of on-going evaluation to improve MARC-U*STAR Program effectiveness. Your cooperation with the external evaluators is appreciated. Also be apprised that as part of the long-term evaluation of the program, the Cal State LA MARC-U*STAR Program will track your progress through graduate school and into a professional career in research. Plan to keep in contact with us.
|Scientific Ethics and Responsible Conduct of Research
Scientific research is based on trust and honesty, as is all scholarship. You are expected to exercise the most ethical conduct in your academics and research. The notions of scientific integrity and ethical conduct of research are fundamental to the establishment of a research career. The Cal State MARC-U*STAR Program provides a workshop for Fellows where the topics of experimental design and the philosophy and ethics of research are presented. MARC-U*STAR Fellows receive a copy of On Being a Scientist: Responsible Conduct In Research published by the Committee on Science, Engineering and Public Policy (COSEPuP) of the National Academy of Science as background for this workshop.
In addition, throughout the year, special seminars will be presented in the Biomedical Sciences Seminar Series devoted to issues dealing with the responsible conduct of research and ethical issues. Finally, we expect that the continual informal conversations between the faculty mentor and the student regarding integrity and ethics will reinforce the material presented in the workshop and in the seminars.
The following forms, lists, and schedules in PDF format may be useful to you. Any other forms you may need are available in the Program office in PS 510.
Biomedical Sciences Seminar Series
Biology & Microbiology Departmental Seminars
Chemistry & Biochemistry Departmental Seminars
MARC-U*STAR Travel Request Form
MARC-U*STAR Student Publications and Presentations
MARC-U*STAR Scholar Program Plan
MARC-U*STAR Program Application Form
MARC-U*STAR Program Letter of Reference Form
Priority Registration Periods 1999-2000
MARC-U*STAR Research Training Faculty
UAS Purchase Order Form
Some Hints on Achieving Academic Success
Student Update Form
If we can be of assistance in furthering your academic or research goals, do not hesitate to approach your research director, or the Program Directors (Drs. Gutierrez and Fratiello), or Vicki Kubo-Anderson, Program Coordinator. We'll try to help as much as we can and are able.