Photo of a lab test being conducted with test tubes

Monday, November 18, 2019

The National Institutes of Health MARC (Maximizing Access to Research Careers) Training Program, which launched at Northeastern Illinois University in 2014 with a five-year, $1.5 million grant, has been awarded another five-year, $1.5 million grant. Three faculty members—Emina Stojkovic (Biology), Joseph Hibdon (Mathematics) and Ruth (Breckie) Church (Psychology)—are the co-directors of this program.

This federally funded program is designed to support underrepresented undergraduate students in the biomedical and behavioral science fields throughout their academic careers and help prepare them for Ph.D. programs.

“We have 80 percent of our MARC scholars in Ph.D. programs,” Church said. “It’s raised the research profile on campus and increased faculty in natural science and math to do biomedical research.”

In addition to high-quality preparation for graduate school, Northeastern students selected for the program are eligible to receive fee waivers for up to 100 percent of their tuition and fees and a monthly stipend of $1,094 for students’ junior and senior years. The grant also covers travel expenses to a national conference, supports external intensive research at Research One institutions during the summer for all MARC trainees, and identifies high-caliber students to be “Pre-MARC” trainees who can participate in all Ph.D. prep activities.

Northeastern’s MARC U-Star program assistant, Dorina Bizhga, graduated from Northeastern with a B.S. in Biology in 2013, a year before the program started at the University.

“I love how transformative this program has been to the students,” Bizhga said. “They are able to focus solely on their studies and research without worrying about how they’re going to pay their education. I strongly encourage students to look into these types of opportunities, which really weren’t available not too long ago at NEIU when I was a student.”

Church, Bizhga and the rest of the MARC U-STAR team are proud of the work they and their students have been able to do over the past five years and look forward to continuing this work during the next grant cycle and beyond.

“In Northeastern receiving this grant, it gives the University the reputation that it is a highly ranked academic environment,” Church said. “I hope all our MARC scholars over the next five years are accepted into Ph.D. programs and continue to conduct biomedical research.”

Applications to appoint four new MARC scholars will open in Spring 2020.