UMass Boston

Initiative for Maximizing Student Development

IMSD is a year-round, research-intensive, skill-building mentoring program for undergraduates interested in pursuing research careers in the biomedical sciences. Funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health, IMSD aims to increase diversity among PhD-level researchers in biomedical fields.

The program provides:

  • Year-round research opportunities in laboratories at UMass Boston and other partnering institutions
  • Hourly wages for research
  • Funding for research supplies
  • Preparation for PhD programs and support in the application process
  • Tuition coverage
  • Research skills training, career development workshops, support to attend national meetings, and other opportunities
  • A community of student and faculty scholars
  • Close mentoring by faculty advisors
  • Networking opportunities

IMSD is open to all students who:

  • Are enrolled as a full-time undergraduate student at UMass Boston
  • Have a GPA of 3.0 or above
  • Are a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident
  • Aspire to pursue a PhD in fields with biomedical relevance
  • Are enrolled at UMass Boston for at least the next 12 months or more.

The following are encouraged to apply:

  • Individuals belonging to racial or ethnic groups underrepresented in the sciences
  • Individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, including first-generation college students
  • Individuals with disabilities

For more information, contact:  IMSD@UMB.EDU

Program Manager:

Leslie McClain.  leslie.mcclain@umb.edu

IMSD Program Office: ISC Room 5140. 

Co-Directors: 

Rachel Skvirsky.  rachel.skvirsky@umb.edu

Adán Colón-Carmona.  adan.colon-carmona@umb.edu

Application

The IMSD program at UMass Boston is a research-intensive, skill-building, and mentoring program with the goal of increasing diversity among PhD-level biomedical researchers.

Eligibility Requirements:

  1. Enrolled as full-time undergraduate student at the University of Massachusetts Boston for at least the next 12 months with minimum 3.0 GPA
  2. U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  3. Demonstrate a strong interest in research in the biomedical or behavioral sciences
  4. NOTE: Individuals who belong to groups underrepresented in the sciences are encouraged to apply. A primary goal of IMSD is to increase the participation and success of such groups in the biomedical sciences.

Underrepresented groups are: 

  • Individuals belonging to racial or ethnic groups underrepresented in the sciences
  • Individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, including first-generation college students (defined here)
  • Individuals with disabilities

The following materials must accompany this application, upload as .PDF or .doc:

  1. Your college transcript(s).
  2. Your resume.
  3. A concise Statement of Interest explaining your interest in biomedical sciences, your career goals, what you would like to gain from the IMSD program, and any talents or skills that you feel have made you successful in your academic career.
  4. Contact information for two references who will write you letters of recommendation, preferably from science professors. Letters are not required at this time. IMSD staff will contact your references after initial review of your application. See more info about recommendations on our FAQ page. 

Create an Account & Apply

Once your full application is submitted, any follow up should be communicated with:

Leslie McClain, IMSD Program Manager
IMSD Office: Room 5140, 5th floor ISC
University of Massachusetts Boston
Boston MA 02125
617.287.6649

Applications will be reviewed as they are received.

For questions, contact:
Leslie McClain, Program Manager: 617.287.6649  leslie.mcclain@umb.edu
Rachel Skvirsky, Co-Director: 617.287.6617  rachel.skvirsky@umb.edu
Adán Colón-Carmona, Co-Director: 617.287.6680  adan.colon-carmona@umb.edu

FAQs

What is the goal of IMSD?

The IMSD program aims to increase the diversity of individuals pursuing biomedical research careers.

What do we mean by biomedical sciences?

Biomedical science is any field of science that pertains to human health. Thus, majors in the departments of biology, chemistry, physics, math, computer science, environmental science, and the BS program in psychology all qualify.

What does IMSD provide?

Formally accepted IMSD Scholars are provided up to two years of funding for training in a research laboratory, individualized mentorship, networking opportunities, support to present and attend local and national conferences, a tuition credit, and a research community of peers to help you succeed getting into PhD programs.

What do you need to be eligible?

  • You would like to learn more about research careers in the sciences
  • You can demonstrate a strong interest and ability in science
  • You are a U.S. citizen or Permanent Resident enrolled as a full-time undergraduate at UMass Boston
  • You are enrolled as full-time undergraduate student at the University of Massachusetts Boston for at least the next 12 months with minimum 3.0 GPA

What if I'm not sure what I want to do after graduation?

You don't have to know for sure. The program will provide a supportive, positive exposure to research to help you crystallize your plans.

Does participation in IMSD make it hard to get my schoolwork or outside work done?

Just the opposite. The IMSD program provides many resources to help you excel in your schoolwork. Furthermore, the hourly wages and tuition credit help to relieve your financial burden.

I'm already in a lab, can I still become an IMSD Scholar?

Yes! Students may apply whether or not they are already in a lab. If you are already in a lab, IMSD can fund your research there; if you are not yet in a lab, IMSD will find a placement that's right for you!

What if I'm not eligible to formally apply or I want to learn more before I decide to apply?

All interested students are welcome to participate in IMSD events and activities. IMSD meets every Friday afternoon to discuss research career related topics and build our scientific community. Students can participate in many different ways:

  • Become a "Friend of IMSD". Be on the IMSD announcements list, participate in IMSD events and interact with our community.
  • Apply to IMSD and be accepted as a "Scholar in Training" (SiT). A "SiT" is a non-funded position that we may offer to freshmen & sophomore students with the intention of accepting as a Jr Scholar when they are within 2 years of graduation.
  • Apply to IMSD and be formally accepted as a Junior Scholar.
  • Apply to IMSD and be formally accepted as a Senior Scholar.

What can I expect to do as a Jr Scholar in the IMSD program?

As a Jr Scholar of the IMSD program, you will become part of a community of students and faculty. During each semester, you will attend seminars, meet seminar speakers, and participate in career development workshops and networking events. You will also have the opportunity to visit, select, or become affiliated with a research laboratory.

How do I get promoted to become a Senior Scholar?

As you advance in research and academic work toward your senior year, you will be considered for promotion to become an IMSD Senior Scholar. To be promoted to the Senior Scholar level, you will need to have at least a 3.0 GPA in your major and satisfactorily participate in IMSD activities.

What can I expect to do as a Senior Scholar in the IMSD program?

As a Senior Scholar of the IMSD program, you will attend weekly meetings with other IMSD students where you will discuss a range of topics that pertain to research careers. Topics may include: Responsible Conduct of Research, Journal Clubs (where you will read research papers from the scientific literature as well as the research of your fellow IMSD students), Social Issues in Science, and Giving Scientific Presentations. During each semester, you will attend seminars, meet seminar speakers, and participate in career development workshops and networking events. You will have the opportunity to work closely with a  faculty member and other students in their research laboratory while gaining valuable research skills and experience of your own. These research opportunities may occur either here at UMass Boston or other academic laboratories in the local area.

What if I don't know two faculty in the sciences to write me good recommendations?

If you are a younger student or a recent transfer, or don't have close references for other reasons, especially in this period of the pandemic, we encourage you to complete all other parts of the application and be in communication with the program manager about who might serve as a good reference. Once all parts of your application are complete, the program team can help you navigate ways to continue participating in IMSD.

What happens after I complete an application?

Once applications are complete, the program manager completes an initial review of an application with the program co-directors. After the initial review, students will receive an email from the program manager detailing any decisions or next steps to take in the review process, such as an interview or providing us further information. 

I need research experience, but plan to go to medical school, should I apply?

Pre-med students are welcome to participate as Friends of IMSD, but IMSD cannot fund or provide research opportunities for students who plan to go to medical school. 

I am looking for other resources to help my scientific interests grow, can IMSD help me with that?

Attending IMSD Meetings are a great way to become familiar with science careers, and students can attend any events listed on the IMSD Semester Schedule. IMSD also provides continually updated lists of research career-related resources, listings of summer and postbac programs on our Resources Page.

How do I Apply?

Contact imsd@umb.edu or apply directly online. In addition to uploading a statement of purpose, transcript and resume, you will ask two faculty in the sciences to serve as your references. Applications are accepted year-round.You can create an account and apply online at anytime.

Program Staff

Co-Directors of IMSD:

Dr. Rachel Skvirsky

Associate Professor and Biology Department Chair
Department of Biology
University of Massachusetts Boston

Email: rachel.skvirsky@umb.edu

Office: ISC, Room 4420

Dr. Adán Colón-Carmona

Professor
Department of Biology
University of Massachusetts Boston

Email: adan.colon-carmona@umb.edu

Office: ISC, Room 4410

IMSD Program Manager:

Dr. Leslie McClain

Email: leslie.mcclain@umb.edu

Office: ISC, Room 5140

Resources

Meet IMSD Alumni

Hear from IMSD Alumni why joining IMSD might be right for you!