Maximizing Access to Research Careers (MARC) at Wayne State starts its second year

Building the pipeline of biomedical talent

Academics and employers are not the only ones concerned about the leaky pipeline producing skilled biomedical researchers - the National Institutes of Health is also. This was the inspiration behind the development of the NIH Maximizing Access to Research Careers (MARC) training program.

MARC Scholar Elliot Widd presents his research at the poster session during the end of year celebration
MARC Scholar Elliot Widd presents his research at the poster session during the end of year celebration.

The MARC program is designed to build a cohort of research-oriented students from groups traditionally underrepresented in STEM fields. This initiative aims to support students interested in pursuing careers as biomedical scientists that plan to, or are willing to consider, Ph.D. programs after graduation. In 2021, Drs. Lori Pile (biological sciences) and Matthew Allen (chemistry) collaborated on a winning NIH MARC proposal, now in its second year of funding.

In addition to student financial support, the MARC program provides professional development opportunities, such as weekly learning communities designed to foster scientific careers. Topics range from research and professional ethics to graduate-school applications.

First cohort

The inaugural cohort consisted of 12 students: five senior MARC scholars, five junior MARC scholars, and two pre-MARC scholars. Each scholar was matched to a lab and began their research projects. The rationale behind this program is simple: students who participate in independent research score higher on metrics of student success than those who do not - and they are much more likely to choose a career in a STEM field.

MARC mentors also participate in exercises to foster community. An end-of-the-year celebration for the WSU MARC community, parents and guests was held in May to mark the completion of the first year of the program. The achievements of the MARC and pre-MARC scholars were recognized in an exhibition of research posters and a presentation of certificates to the inaugural class. A highlight of the celebration was the opportunity for the family and support community to mingle with the MARC scholars and mentors during the poster exhibition and learn about all the different types of research underway. So what does success look like?

Three of the five seniors accepted offers to attend Ph.D. programs, while two opted to gain additional experience as research technicians or lab managers. Throughout the summer and into the fall of 2022, the continuing and new MARC and pre-MARC scholars attended learning community meetings and continued research. Program directors will begin recruitment of new scholars in the winter and welcome the next cohort of MARC scholars in the summer of 2023. We are excited to see what our MARC scholars will accomplish in the coming years!

The first class of MARC scholars
The first class of MARC scholars. From left to right: Skye Taylor, Milan Rogan, Anuri Mitchell, Sydni Alexis Elebra, Elliot Widd, Katelynn Haygood, Dr. Matt Allen, Melissa Torres, Dr. Lori Pile, Autumn Harris, Dr. Brooke Corbin, Alexis Taylor, Kailyn Fields, Nailah Bowman.

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