Maximizing Access to Research Careers (MARC)

Undergraduate Research Training Program

For sophomore or junior students from underrepresented groups with an interest in biomedical research.

2024 application is closed

The application for the 2024 program is closed.

The training mission of Maximizing Access to Research Careers (MARC) at Colorado State University is to identify promising underrepresented biomedical sciences students and provide them with rigorous, evidence-based courses, mentored research laboratory experiences, synergistic social networks, stable financial support, and structured individualized training activities to develop a cohort of highly qualified trainees who will matriculate into advanced biomedical sciences degree programs.

A program funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the primary goal of Maximizing Access to Research Careers is to develop a diverse pool of undergraduates who complete their baccalaureate degree and transition into and complete biomedical, research-focused higher-degree programs (e.g. Ph.D., M.D.).

Learn about our current program participants.

Program activities

Under the mentorship of a MARC program faculty member, scholars engage in biomedical research for 15 hours per week during the academic year and 40 hours per week during the summer. Scholars participate in hypothesis-driven laboratory research for up to three academic years and complete two summer research experiences. Participation in scientific meetings, outreach to the lay public, manuscript publication, and funded scholarship proposals help students develop oral and written communication skills. Students can attend conferences locally and out of state, apply to graduate programs, and present research to the community.

As part of the requirements for receiving a MARC training award, scholars are expected to:

  • Maintain a GPA of at least 3.0
  • Complete course requirements
  • Create an individual development plan and a mentoring compact with research mentor(s) and program leadership
  • Participate in mentor and program assessments
  • Attend conferences
  • Attend the annual MARC retreat
  • Participate in science outreach
  • Present research to the Fort Collins community in senior year

Year one


  • Pursue shadowing opportunities in 3 MARC faculty labs
  • Identify a lab and begin research project (work in the lab 15 hours per week)
  • Attend annual MARC retreat
  • Complete mentoring compact


  • VMBS 100 (required)
  • MIP 150 (highly suggested)

Year two


  • Attend either SACNAS or ABRCMS meetings
  • Attend annual MARC retreat
  • Write an individualized development plan


  • MIP 381A1 (required)
  • GRAD 544 or equivalent ethics course (required)
  • MIP 280A4 (highly suggested)

It is highly suggested that MARC scholars conduct research outside of CSU between their junior and senior years.

Year three


  • Attend annual MARC retreat
  • Apply to 5 graduate schools
  • Give science presentations to the community


  • MIP 470 (required)
  • MIP 666 (required)


Applicants must:

  • be CSU undergraduate students majoring in biomedical sciences, starting their sophomore or junior year Fall 2024.
  • be from underrepresented groups as defined by the NIH (includes individuals underrepresented by race, ethnicity, dis/ability, income level, or first-generation status; see NIH’s Interest in Diversity notice for full list of underrepresented populations).
  • have an expressed interest in a career in biomedical research and intentions to pursue graduate education leading to a Ph.D. or other Ph.D./combined professional program.
  • have a GPA of at least 3.0.
  • be United States citizens or permanent residents (at the time of appointment).

Students with labor permits are not eligible for participation in the program. Individuals receiving certain other federally funded grants or fellowships (e.g. Truman, other NIH fellowships) may not be eligible for funding by this program. The program administration will determine whether or not there are financial aid conflicts that render an individual ineligible for financial support by the program.

Concurrent awards: A MARC traineeship may not be held concurrently with another federally sponsored traineeship (e.g. CAMP, MBRS, REU) or similar training award that provides a stipend or otherwise duplicates provisions of the National Research Service Award. However, an individual may accept concurrent educational benefits from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (e.g., G.I. Bill) and federal loans.


Financial support includes:

  • a stipend for $13,644 per year (or $1,137 per month) to engage in biomedical research
  • support for tuition and fees for fall and spring semesters
  • travel funds for one summer at an extramural site for a research training experience (foreign sites are not allowed)
  • computer support and supplies to print posters and prepare presentations
  • funds to travel and present papers at national scientific meetings (Sigma Xi, ABRCMS, or AAAS)

Application information

Please be prepared to:

  1. describe your most rewarding academic experience, work experience, and/or research experience (not required for program eligibility).
  2. list extracurricular/volunteer/community activities, along with any honors/awards/scholarships or recognitions you have received.
  3. identify 3 program faculty whose research aligns with your interest, then explain why you want to go to graduate school and what you hope to gain from your participation in the program.

Application timeline

Application opens
Application closes
Final decisions

Contact us

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Program staff

Gregg Dean
Gregg Dean, D.V.M., Ph.D.

Program Director
Professor, Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology

Mark Zabel, Ph.D.
Mark Zabel, Ph.D.

Program Director
Associate Dean of Research, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences
Professor, Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology

Sandra Quackenbush
Sandra Quackenbush, Ph.D.

Program Director
Associate Dean of Academic and Student Affairs, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences
Professor, Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology

Grace Borlee, Ph.D.

Program Coordinator
Assistant Professor, Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology