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Maximizing Access to Research Careers (MARC U*STAR)

Maximizing Access to Research Careers - Undergraduate Student Training in Academic Research

Maximizing Access to Research Careers - Undergraudate Student Training in Academic Research (MARC U*STAR)

The Maximizing Access to Research Careers - Undergraduate Student Training in Academic Research (MARC U*STAR) Program is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The program seeks to increase the number of highly-trained biomedical and behavioral scientists in leadership positions to significantly affect the nation's health-related research needs.

MARC U-STAR provides support for undergraduate students who are underrepresented in the biomedical and behavioral sciences to improve their preparation for high-caliber graduate training at the Ph.D. level. 

The period of appointment to the MARC U-STAR program is a consecutive 24 months at the final two years of undergraduate training, typically called the junior and senior years.

Benny Escobedo, Dr. Rudy Ortiz, and Susana Calderon

The MARC U*STAR Program at UC Merced is the premier undergraduate honors research training program on campus.

Participation in MARC U*STAR is an exceptional opportunity to enhance your academic and professional career through involvement in contemporary biomedical research under the guidance of faculty mentors. The overall mission of the NIH MARC U*STAR Program at UC Merced is to provide rigorous training to dedicated students coming from historically underrepresented communities for entry into and successful completion of doctoral programs in biomedical/biobehavioral sciences at tier-one research institutions throughout the nation, and subsequent entry into productive research careers.

The MARC U*STAR Program fosters academic and professional success in our scholars by providing:

  • a nurturing, supportive and encouraging environment, especially for building an appreciation of community and team via cohort-building activities
  • faculty-mentored experiential learning through engaged research experiences
  • comprehensive professional skills training workshops and opportunities
  • an enhanced appreciation of responsible conduct of research, and
  • financial support to allow scholars to focus on academic and professional activities and avoid distraction from outside work 

Is the MARC U*STAR Program Right for Me? 

MARC U*STAR Scholars must commit to a 24-month program of scientific research and graduate school preparation guided by individual faculty mentors. Scholars are provided with excellent opportunities to explore the biomedical and biobehavioral disciplines, experience research environments and improve their opportunities in advanced graduate training.

Each scholar is mentored by a UC Merced faculty member and our program staff members, who assist designing a plan of research and enrichment activities fitted to the individual interests and academic goals of the scholar. This action plan includes:

  • two years of paid summer and academic-year research experience
  • 60 percent of tuition and fees paid
  • Participate in MARC Engaged Seminar Series led by guest faculty experts
  • Attendance at professional or scientific society meetings
  • Travel to another research university of your choice for second summer opportunity

Program Eligibility and Requirements

To be eligible for selection, each applicant must:

  • Be enrolled full-time at UC Merced as an undergraduate student in a STEM discipline but have a demonstrable commitment to pursue a career in biomedical research (not a medical degree that does not include clinical research)
  • Be on track to receive a bachelor’s degree at the conclusion of the second year of the MARC Scholars program (i.e. should apply before junior year or before the fourth year if on a five-year plan)
  • Have a cumulative 3.3 GPA or better

How to Apply

The MARC U*STAR program identifies students who have:

  • Experienced educational barriers to their academic progress, or who express a commitment to address the barriers that prevent participation of students from underrepresented groups in graduate academic programs;
  • Experienced situations or conditions that impacted their advancement or ability to advance in a STEM field (e.g. the absence of a role model in the STEM field, absence of a family member who received a four-year college degree, or graduation from a high school with poor financial or curricular support);
  • Leadership potential to address the issues of underrepresentation of domestic minorities in biomedical/biobehavioral areas;
  • The potential to gain the personal and multicultural competency skills necessary to address the needs of a diverse state and global community through biomedical/biobehavioral training

The following materials are needed to complete the MARC U*STAR application:

  1. MARC U*STAR online application form
  2. Statement of purpose and personal essay as described in the online application
  3. One letter of recommendation from a faculty member
  4. One unofficial transcript saved in pdf format from the my.ucmerced portal

This opportunity is for UC Merced students who meet the minimum eligibility requirements

Application period for Summer 2018 scholar is Feb. 1 - March 15, 2018

Application link will be posted here


Contact Information:

Jorge Arroyo
Interim Director, Undergraduate Research Opportunities Center
University of California, Merced

Professor Rudy Ortiz
School of Natural Sciences
Program Director, MARC U*STAR PREP
University of California, Merced