Wednesday, July 29, 2015

UTSA's MARC, MBRS-RISE, MBRS-SCORE programs celebrate three decades

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(March 4, 2011)--In 1979, The University of Texas at San Antonio College of Sciences (then known as the College of Science and Mathematics) began offering MARC and MBRS, two programs funded by the National Institutes of Health to nurture students who are interested in attending graduate school and promote faculty development. Thirty years later, the programs have become a lifeline for UTSA science students who aspire to become scholars at the top of their game.

Former College of Science and Mathematics Dean Bernard Sagik introduced the training programs to UTSA. Department of Biology faculty Edwin Barea-Rodriguez, Andrew Martinez and Andrew Tsin as well as retired UTSA biology professors Herb Silver and Paul Rodriguez nurtured the programs into the successes they are today.

MARC-U*STAR (Minority Access to Research Careers - Undergraduate Student Training for Academic Research or MARC) is a UTSA honors program that supports undergraduates majoring in biology, chemistry, mathematics, computer science, statistics or engineering, focusing on underrepresented and financially disadvantaged populations. MARC students receive research and professional skills training, $2,080 per semester toward tuition, a $931 monthly stipend, and two years of travel and conference expenses.

The MBRS (Minority Biomedical Research Support) program offers two tracks: RISE (Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement) and SCORE (Support of Competitive Research). MBRS-RISE recruits talented students majoring in biology, physics, chemistry, mathematics, statistics, computer science or engineering, focusing in particular on underrepresented and financially disadvantaged populations. MBRS-SCORE supports faculty research in science, engineering and psychology. Financial support for both tracks ranges from $10 per hour for undergraduates working in research laboratories to $25,000 per year for students pursuing doctoral degrees and varying levels of support for faculty.

UTSA alumnus Ulises Ricoy '98, '07 is intimately familiar with the MARC and MBRS-RISE programs. In the mid-90s, a friend introduced him to MARC, causing him to change his major from engineering to biology. After researching memory storage for two years alongside Edwin Barea-Rodriguez, professor and chair of the Department of Biology, and graduating from UTSA with his bachelor's degree, Ricoy later returned as a MBRS-RISE Ph.D. student and conducted research in the neuroscience laboratory of Professor Joseph L. Martinez Jr. Ricoy now is an assistant professor at Northern New Mexico College.

MARC also changed the life of UTSA alumna Zoya Farzampour '10, who went from day-to-day survival to a promising career in neuroscience. While in the program, Farzampour conducted research in the laboratory of UTSA Professor David Jaffe. She now is pursuing doctoral studies in neuroscience at Stanford University.

Since UTSA began offering MARC and RISE, 739 students have participated in at least one of the programs. Some of those UTSA alums have completed doctoral research programs and now teach at the university level. Others have pursued health sciences training and earned their professional degrees.

Over the last 10 years, UTSA has significantly intensified the training and doctoral program preparedness offered by the programs, a shift that has delivered results. In recent years, more than half of the UTSA MARC and RISE junior/senior undergraduates continued in graduate programs. Moreover, all program alumni who applied to graduate school were admitted, many earning extremely competitive placements at schools such as Stanford, Harvard, University of Michigan, University of Iowa and University of Washington, Seattle.

UTSA also found that the programs cater to a significant population of students from community colleges -- more than half at last count.

"We're seeing students like Zoya who are making very strategic decisions to get their general education requirements out of the way at local community colleges before matriculating to UTSA," said Gail Taylor, MARC/RISE assistant program director.

"In 30 years, the MARC and RISE programs have literally changed lives of UTSA students by giving them research experience and mentoring to help them prepare for and pursue their doctoral degrees," said Barea-Rodriguez, who also serves as UTSA's MARC and RISE program director. "We can tell you the number of students who have been through the programs, but the impact the programs have made on those students is immeasurable."

 

 

Did You Know?

Sometimes you have to see the little picture

UTSA researchers are exploring matter at the atomic level with Helenita. It's one of the most powerful microscopes in the world, with the ability to operate near the theoretical limit of resolution. At 9 feet, 2 inches tall and weighing more than two tons, Helenita can dissect almost anything. With Helenita's resolution, researchers can study particles atom by atom to see how they behave.

That's critical in developing nanotechnology that will help diagnosis early-stage breast cancer or make helmets that are uber strong. Moreover, the detail that Helenita provides will allow nanotechnology researchers to create new therapies and treatments to fight a wide range of human diseases.

Did you know? Helenita can magnify a sample 20 million times its size, which would make a strand of human hair the size of San Antonio.

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Events
July 30, 5 - 7 p.m.

Networking and happy hour with AIA San Antonio's Women in Architecture

Join AIA San Antonio’s Women in Architecture group for their networking and happy hour event, where all design professionals are welcome.
Liberty Bar, 1111 S. Alamo St.

Aug. 1, 9 p.m.

"Inside Peace" documentary screening

This documentary, presented by the San Antonio Film Festival, documents the experience of re-entry after incarceration. The film features Michael Gilbert, associate professor in the department of criminal justice and director of the Office of Community and Restorative Justice program at UTSA.
Tobin Center for the Performing Arts, 100 Auditorium Circle

Aug. 4, 6 - 8 p.m.

Free Teacher Tuesday: Los Tejanos Workshop

Discover resources and strategies for teaching Tejano history and culture and get a special educator's tour of the new long-term exhibit, Los Tejanos.
Institute of Texan Cultures, 801 E. César E. Chávez Blvd.

Aug. 9, 12 - 5 p.m.

Vaquerocation 2015

This cowboy-themed programming, offered in conjunction with Our Kids Magazine's Kidcation Week, gives families the opportunity to visit with cowboy docents, enjoy readings and visit activity tables.
Institute of Texan Cultures, 801 E. Cesar E. Chavez Blvd.

Aug. 22, 6 p.m.

UTSA Alumni Gala

The UTSA Alumni Association hosts this annual gala honoring the Alumna of the Year, Alumnus of the Year and the Alumnus of the Year Lifetime Achievement award winners.
Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort & Spa, 9800 Hyatt Resort Dr.


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