(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."
The annual Center for Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship (CITE) 100K Venture Competition and Exposition will be held on the Main Campus on Dec. 1. Twenty-eight teams from across the university will exhibit their project; six teams will compete for a prize pool of more than $100,000 in funding to launch their new venture / company. More than 650 students have participated in launching new technology ventures.
Biotechnology, Sciences and Engineering (BSE 2.102), Main Campus
This concert features 50 community children performing music in the UTSA Downtown String Project Winter Concert. The children, led by UTSA music students studying to be music teachers, will join together in playing the Theme from Batman at their concert. The Batman of San Antonio, a local celebrity figure, will make an appearance at the concert. This event is free.
Buena Vista Theatre, Downtown Campus
Graduate student uses storytelling to highlight important issues facing children
As touch screens and e-books demand more and more attention from both casual readers and scholars, many people say the handwriting is on the wall for the printed page.
At UTSA, the handwriting is on the wall for a library that doesn't have any printed books.
Since March 2010, the bookless library in the Applied Engineering and Technology Building has given UTSA students an innovative way to read, research and work with each other to solve problems.
With ultra-modern furniture and a décor featuring desktop computers, scanners and LCD screens, the AET Library is designed to engage students in an online format. But it also offers group study niches and study rooms with whiteboards and glass walls on which students can write. The space encourages teamwork, communications and problem solving for the next generation of scientists and professional engineers.
Did you know? The UTSA AET Library is the nation's first completely bookless library on a college or university campus. It served as a model for Bexar County's first-in-the-nation public bookless library system and one of its branches, the Dr. Ricardo Romo BiblioTech.
The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.
To be a premier public research university, providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.
We encourage an environment of dialogue and discovery, where integrity, excellence, inclusiveness, respect, collaboration and innovation are fostered.