Maximizing Access to Research Careers (MARC)

Undergraduate Student Training in Academic Research (U-STAR) Program

Sponsored by the National Institutes of Health

NIH Grant T34GM136498 from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences

Program Announcement: Applications deadline is August 18, 2021.

Program Directors

Dr. Luis M. Mota-Bravo, Director of Outreach, Research Training and Minority Science Programs,  School of Biological Sciences

Dr. Marlene de la Cruz, Director of Student Academic Development of Outreach, Research Training and Minority Science Programs, School of Biological Sciences

Dr. Anthony A. James, Donald Bren Professor, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, School of Biological Sciences


The Minority Science Programs (MSP) in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) announces the Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) Program, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). MARC seeks 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.).

MARC scholars engage in year-round biomedical research under the mentorship of a UCI faculty member and receive financial support in the form of,

  • Stipend in the amount of $13,644 per year (or $1,137 per month) to engage in biomedical research,
  • Funds for tuition and fees in the amount of $9,271 per year for Fall, Winter and Spring quarters,
  • 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, and
  • Funds to travel and present papers at national scientific meetings (Sigma Xi, ABRCMS or AAAS).

The MARC research training elements are integrated with the undergraduate curriculum and include 1) research conducted under the direction of UCI faculty mentors receiving 4 units per quarter during the academic year, 2) individual career and academic advising, 3) a research faculty seminar series, 4) a journal club to introduce scholars to critical reading of current biomedical literature, 5) a workshop on principles, instrumentation and techniques used in biomedical research, 6) preparation to present scientific papers at national conferences, 7) a course designed to write a paper to be published in the faculty-refereed undergraduate research journal and/or a peer-reviewed journal, 8) GRE preparation and 9) individual advice during the graduate education application process.


MARC scholars must be United States citizens or permanent residents from underrepresented groups (Blacks or African Americans, Hispanics or Latinos, American Indians or Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians or other Pacific Islanders, or individuals with disabilities, or individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds as defined by NOT-OD-20-031), enrolled in an area within biomedical sciences, chemistry, mathematics, physics, computer sciences and biomedical engineering.

MARC scholars must be UCI undergraduate junior and senior students majoring in the sciences, with a GPA of at least 3.0, with 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. MARC scholars must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents at the time of the appointment.  Students with labor permits are not eligible for participation in the MARC Program.


Biomedical research includes such areas as cell biology, biochemistry, physiology, pharmacology, genetics, etc., and behavioral research as well as the more quantitative areas, such as mathematics, physics, chemistry and computer sciences, necessary to analyze biological phenomena. MARC scholars may choose their research advisor among faculty in the School of Biological Sciences, College of Medicine, School of Physical Sciences, School of Engineering and School of Information and Computer Science that are conducting biomedical research.


The period of appointment to the MARC program is two years at the junior/senior level. Appointments of less than nine months are not allowable. Failure to comply with the program requirements in full (see table below) or graduation will result in termination prior to the two-year maximum term.

MARC is a merit-based fellowship program, and thus students are encouraged to apply to MARC regardless of their financial aid status. In most cases, individuals receiving other forms of financial aid are still eligible for MARC. However, since MARC is a National Research Service Award (NRSA) funded by a training grant from the National Institute of Health (NIH), 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 a similar training award that provides a stipend or otherwise duplicates provisions of the NRSA.  However, an individual may accept concurrent educational benefits from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (e.g., G.I. Bill) and Federal loans.

Stipend Supplementation:  An institution is permitted to provide funds to a MARC trainee in addition to the stipend paid by the NIH.  Such additional amounts may be in the form of augmented stipends (supplementation) or compensation for services.  Supplementation, when provided, does not obligate the fellow in any way.  However, no Federal funds may be used for supplementation. Under no circumstances may the conditions of stipend supplementation for services interfere with, detract from, or prolong the fellow’s approved NRSA training program.

MARC scholars are expected to engage in research, under the mentorship of a UCI faculty, for 15 hours per week during the academic year and 40 hours per week during the summer.

MARC trainees are required to spend at least one summer at an extramural site for a research training experience (funded by the MARC program). Foreign sites are not allowed.

The following timetable shows the MARC activities and requirements:

Science Major Remain in a science major in good standing Ongoing
Research in biomedical sciences under the direction of a UCI faculty 4.0 units of Bio Sci 199 (F, W, Sp) per quarter plus full-time research in summers, beginning summer of first year (not summer after graduation). Bio Sci 194S (safety and ethics in research) must be taken before enrolling in 199 or concurrently. Throughout year
GPA minimum Maintain GPA of 3.0 or higher Each quarter
Summer research training at an extramural site Apply to summer programs before February during the first year in the program First summer in the program
Report of activities Prepare a summary of activities and accomplishments Each quarter
Meetings, Seminars,  Workshops and Courses
Academic and career advising Group and individual meetings with program directors and coordinators to discuss research training, academic progress and application to graduate education Each quarter
Safety and Ethics for Research Course Course: 194S (1.0 units, P/NP) Quarter prior to engaging in research
MSP Theory and Research Seminar Course: Bio Sci 197 (F, W, Sp – 1.0 unit, P/NP) plus summer seminars and workshops Throughout year
MSP Training in Laboratory Methods Workshop: Principles, instrumentation and techniques used in biomedical sciences. Offered during the first two weeks of the summer. Summer quarter of the first year as MARC fellow
MSP Journal Club Journal Club: Students discuss journal articles about their research projects Summer quarter of the first year as MARC fellow
Summer paper and MSP Summer Symposium MARC scholars prepare a research paperand present a 10 minute oral presentation about their research to faculty and peers At the end of every Summer in the program
Scientific Papers, Talks and Posters
For Bio majors, Excellence in Research Sponsored by School of Biological Sciences: Enroll in Fall quarter and participate in three workshops; present results in three formats: research paper, oral presentation, research poster First year in fellowship or senior year. Bio Sci workshops are in Fall and Winter quarters, deadlines are in Winter quarter and presentations in Spring quarter; may participate both years
Scientific Conferences
Present at one scientific conference each year (up to one conference per quarter) Present data at local or national scientific conference. NIH-supported Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS), Sigma Xi or American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)  ABRCMS or Sigma Xi in Fall, AAAS in Winter Quarter
Preparation to Apply to PhD Programs
GRE Preparation Take the GRE preparation course Spring or Summer prior to the year of graduation
GRE General Test Take the GRE General Test Summer prior to graduation
Application to PhD Programs Attend MARC workshops and apply to PhD Programs Fall prior to graduation


Please download, complete and sign the MARC_application. With your application, please include your UCI transcript (if you have completed less than three quarters at UCI, please include an official copy of transcripts from previous colleges attended).

For additional information about MARC please contact,

Dr. Marlene de la Cruz
Director Academic Student Development
Outreach, Research Training and Minority Science Programs, School of Biological Sciences
University of California, Irvine
1134 Biological Sciences III
Irvine, CA 92697-2527
Ph: (949) 824-2589
Fax: (949) 824-6599
e-mail: marlene@uci.edu