Campus: CSU Fullerton -- July 8, 2005
CSUF Program Stresses Research Careers
Ronald Coleman peers into the Petri dish and discovers to his dismay that there
are no transformed colonies of the green algae he is studying. He grabs another
from a series of dishes and is rewarded when he sees transformants that may be
producing the antibody he introduced.
Lawrence Gray works in another lab exploring how copper is transported through
Both young men are participants in Cal State Fullerton's Minority Access to
Research Careers (MARC) program. Thanks to funding from the National Institutes
of Health, the 10-year-old program offers underrepresented students opportunities
to explore careers in research. The goal, says program director Amybeth Cohen,
associate professor of biological science, is to expose undergraduate students to
the type of research and skills that will help them enter and succeed in graduate
programs. "The idea is to give them the preparation to compete for slots at the
top schools in the country."
Students selected for the program must carry at least a 3.2 grade-point-average
and be interested in research as a career, said Cohen. Program participants are
required to take specific science courses; conduct an average of 15 hours of
research per week during both semesters of the academic year and full time for
eight weeks in the summer; conduct a specific research project that will culminate
in a senior thesis; and defend their findings before a thesis committee at the
end of the program.
MARC scholars attend a weekly seminar where they read scientific papers, learn
how to develop research presentations and hear from guest speakers that they invite
to the course. They also are expected to attend and deliver presentations on their
work at local and national professional meetings.
In addition to four scholars working in university labs on campus, there are two
MARC scholars in England, where they are gaining exposure to the level and
atmosphere of a doctoral-level research facility.
The program provides each student with an annual stipend of about $10,000, as well
as funding for travel, supplies and materials. MARC also pays participants' school
fees and provides a GRE preparation course.
This fall, six students will enter the program, thanks to a $247,080 NIH grant.
Unlike previous years when scholars came from the ranks of biological science and
biochemistry majors, the new class of MARC scholars will include a psychology
"It's a lot of hard work," said Cohen, who has mentored four students and is
currently working with Coleman and another participant. "We expect a lot of them.
But if they rise to the challenge, they do well."
Since 1995, 23 students have completed the two-year program and gone on to graduate
and doctorate programs at UC Irvine, UC San Diego and USC. Coleman, a resident of
Covina, will begin a doctorate program this fall at Scripps Research Institute,
while Gray, of Placentia, will work toward a Ph.D. at Oregon Health and Science
Amybeth Cohen, director of the MARC program, at
(714) 278-2178 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Pamela McLaren of Public Affairs, at (714) 278-4852 or