Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD) Program

Program Overview

The purpose of our Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD) program is to achieve greater participation of students from under-represented groups in the biomedical sciences. For the purpose of the IMSD program, under-represented groups including African Americans, Hispanic Americans, American Indians, U.S. Pacific Islanders and people with disabilities.  This program is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Program Goals

The overall goal of our IMSD program is to increase the number of undergraduate IMSD Scholars seeking the Ph.D. or M.D./Ph.D. and to help graduate IMSD Fellows become more competitive for postdoctoral and faculty positions. Specific goals are:

Undergraduate Student Development

Goal 1: Increase the number and academic competitiveness of IMSD Scholars. Support students at UM with IMSD funding; provide enrichment instruction in genetics and organic chemistry courses; assign IMSD graduate fellows as peer mentors to IMSD undergraduate scholars.

Goal 2: Stimulate student interest in research. Provide research experiences for students with UM faculty mentors; aid students in finding extramural summer internships; offer a series of special research-related courses focusing on the responsible conduct of research, experimental design and research presentations; involve the IMSD Scholars in inquiry-based introductory biology laboratories as peer leaders; support student travel to scientific conferences.

Goal 3: Increase the number of IMSD Scholars entering Ph.D. programs. Provide a GRE preparatory course for IMSD Scholars; encourage all program students to apply to two graduate programs in addition to UM’s; provide career workshops with an emphasis on graduate application preparation and curriculum vitae preparation; provide guidance on graduate programs appropriate to the student’s ability and interest.

This program requires undergraduates to follow the requirements for an honors degree in biology. If not a biology major student must:

  • Maintain GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • Attend the required program meetings
  • Conduct two semesters of research (work up to 15 hours per week during the academic year and not more than 40 hours per week during the summer)
  • Present their research at the Research, Creativity, and Innovation Forum (RCIF) in the senior year
  • Complete an extramural summer internship by the senior year at a university located outside of Florida
  • Write a research paper at the end of senior year

Graduate Student Development

Goal 1: Ensure that all predoctoral IMSD Fellows are competitive for a postdoctoral or research faculty position after completing the Ph.D. degree. Regular meetings of the dissertation committee to ensure timely progress toward the Ph.D., including written feedback on progress; participation in professional development courses; courses/workshops on grant-writing, publication, and post doctoral fellowships; travel grants to attend meetings.

Goal 2: Create a community of IMSD Fellows.Bi-weekly meetings with program director and all IMSD fellows; Meetings provide a forum for IMSD Fellows to present their research.

Eligibility and Selection

Undergraduate Students

Students are selected based on: 1) cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or better, 2) two letters of recommendation from math or science teachers (indicating research potential), 3) a letter of intent in pursuing a Ph.D. or M.D./Ph.D. after graduation from UM, and 4) students must be U.S. citizens, non-citizen nationals or permanent residents and must be matriculated fulltime in baccalaureate programs in the biomedical sciences at UM.

Graduate Students

Students are selected based on: 1) cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or better, 2) combined GRE score of 1100 or better, 3) three letters of recommendation from faculty in the sciences, 4) a personal statement of career goals, 5) students must be U.S. citizens, non citizen nationals or permanent residents and must be matriculated fulltime in doctoral degree programs in the biomedical sciences at UM.


Undergraduate Students

Undergraduates are not supported for more than 15 hours per week during the academic year and not more than 40 hours/week during the summer. Support for students is not provided for time spent by the students participating in IMSD-sponsored non-research enrichment activities.


Graduate Students

Graduate (Ph.D.) students receive a 12-month stipend commensurate with department guidelines and 100% towards health insurance. An expectation is that those students who are enrolled in Ph.D. programs as part of the IMSD program will be supported for two years (contingent on continued IMSD funding to UM). After that time, students need to be supported by other extramural grants or institutional funds.

Questions?  Contact the IMSD Coordinator at 305-284-5058