Campus: CSU Bakersfield -- June 29, 2005
New Program Broadens Research Education
Two new programs at California State University, Bakersfield will help fund
minority math and science students' education. The Student Preparation for Academic
Research Careers and Minority Access to Research Careers-Undergraduate Student
Training in Academic Research programs, or SPARC and MARC U* STAR as they are known,
are designed to prepare underrepresented minority students for advanced studies
in the natural sciences, mathematics, and biomedical research at the graduate
Carl Kemnitz, CSUB SPARC/MARC U* STAR program director, said the MARC program is
funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). SPARC is paid for
by CSUB. "The NIH is interested in biomedical research," Kemnitz said. "They want
to tap every available mind. They believe that underrepresented minorities haven't
had enough support academically and financially to do research. This grant gives
them the tools to do it."
SPARC is for freshman and sophomore college students, while MARC is for juniors
and seniors. The program is still in its infancy at CSUB, only starting its first
group of students this month. There weren't even enough students to fill all the
vacancies for the SPARC program. Kemnitz is trying to get the word out. "We're
still trying to get our foot hold," he added.
There are 24 available spots a year for SPARC and recruitment starts at the high
school junior and senior level. "I'm anywhere math and science students are," said
Andrea Medina, CSUB SPARC/MARC U* STAR coordinator. Medina contacts local high
school counselors, attends science fairs, and talks with math and science teachers
to engage new recruits.
The program offers participants a two-year scholarship worth $1,200 peracademic
year. Students do have to work hard for their money. They must maintain a 3.0 GPA
and take core classes including cellular biology and physiology. "SPARC does not
guarantee acceptance into MARC, but it will provide a strong foundation that all
MARC students are expected to have," Medina said.
MARC is even more competitive with only six slots available a year. Students
participate in extensive academic research, conference presentations, ethics
training, and graduate school preparation. The program starts with an intensive
research academy during the first summer of the program. MARC has its specific
requirements as well including that students must maintain a 3.0 GPA, take core
classes and complete a thesis.
Students will get help along the way. "There's a lot of personalized attention
since it's such a small program," Kemnitz said. "Each student will have a faculty
mentor. Our goal is to get them to grad school so they can feel comfortable to
come to us with questions or for advice."
MARC participants receive $12,887 per academic year. "A lot of students can't
believe how much money they can get," Medina said. In addition students can receive
$1,500 for research project funding and up to $1,000 to attend professional meetings
to present their results. "When students attend these meetings they're networking
with faculty from graduate schools," she added.
Joe McFaddin, a CSUB MARC student, is a biology major who will be a senior in the
fall. He recognizes the importance of the program during his undergraduate work.
"Part of being competitive is knowing that you have the competency to do the
research," McFaddin emphasized. "That way you know what to expect and how to do
it once you get to graduate school." He added it also helps to communicate with
other students in the program because they have unique and different approaches
to questions and research.
A fellow classmate of McFaddin is currently hard at work researching the proteins
and genes of plants. "The concept of this program is so cool," said Stacey Abidayo,
a CSUB MARC student. Abidayo just graduated from high school and because of her
hard work is already at junior-level status at CSUB. "The money is an incentive
but we're all really interested in the research anyway. You get hands-on research
opportunities and it looks great on resumes."
Kemnitz wants to entice a variety of math and science students to apply. "You don't
have to be interested in biomedical research to be a part of this program," he
stressed. "Many groundbreaking discoveries of the future will require an integrative
and collaborative approach to research at the boundaries of traditional biology,
where they meet the mathematical, computational, and molecular sciences. … (It's)
essential to the biomedical enterprise that we prepare a research workforce
comprised of life scientists and computer scientists who can work together
effectively and communicate. We cannot afford to ignore any segment of the
population when preparing these future researchers."
For eligibility inquiries or any additional information, please contact Medina at
(661) 654-3006, or visit www.csub.edu/marc.
Mike Stepanovich, 661/654-2456,
Jaclyn Loveless, email@example.com