MARC program at Ohio State seeks to empower nascent researchers

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A new program at The Ohio State University seeks to grow the ranks of the next generation of biomedical scholars doing impactful research.

amyferketich
Amy Ferketich

The Maximizing Access to Research Careers (MARC) program provides undergraduate students from historically underrepresented groups with a research-focused training program that includes courses, experiential learning, faculty and graduate student mentoring, and peer support.

The program is a collaboration between the colleges of Public Health, Engineering and Arts and Sciences and is sponsored by the National Institutes of Health.

“Our theme is ‘molecules to society,’ which makes sense, given the three colleges involved,” said Amy Ferketich, a professor of epidemiology in the College of Public Health. “Our goal is to recruit a diverse group of undergraduate students who are interested in eventually pursuing a PhD.”

The program will provide scholarship funding and a monthly stipend. Ferketich said program leaders want students to avoid having an extra, non-research-related job because the program is expected to be intensive.

“They’ll be paired with a mentor,” she said. “We found some really excellent mentors in each of the three colleges, as well as medicine – people who have a really strong track record in mentoring undergraduate students, publishing with their students and then encouraging students to continue in research careers after undergraduate school.”

The work doesn’t end when the students graduate. The MARC program includes an evaluation process that extends 15 years after students complete the program.

Following completion of the MARC program, students will:

  • Feel a sense of community with their peers, faculty and graduate student mentors.
  • Have a sense of belonging at Ohio State.
  • Increase their self-efficacy for research.
Shaurya Prakash
Shaurya Prakash

The MARC program emphasizes interdisciplinary research because some of the world’s biggest challenges will require a collaborative approach to solve.

“Science and technology, as we have progressed through the last century, has increasingly become a

multidisciplinary domain and there are very few problems that are left that one so-called discipline can address,” said Shaurya Prakash, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering. 

Program leaders expect that 80% of students will publish at least one paper as co-author or first author, 50% will apply to a doctoral program at graduation and 80% in three years, and 80% will have a biomedical science career within 10 years.

“This is a training program, and the training program is really intended to show these students there is a way to conduct unbiased, thoughtful research,” Prakash said. “So our message will be that if you want to contribute to a research path and a research career, think big, think bold and learn the methods of how to do this in the right way.”

marcossotomayor
Marcos Sotomayor

The program intends to prepare students to be able to take on these challenges.

“We want to provide all the resources, tools and support that students may need to get prepared for a scientific career,” said Marcos Sotomayor, professor of chemistry and biochemistry.

This program is funded by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences for five years. More information can be found on the MARC website.

Written by Chris Booker, Ohio State News