Our world is facing increasingly complex challenges that need new solutions. It will take more and more diverse researchers to innovate and reimagine scientific strategies, from climate and food science to the next pandemic.

IMSD express group of students
IMSD students participate in multiple national undergraduate conferences in addition to performing cutting-edge research on Mizzou’s campus. Front row (from left): Ashley Aguillard, Erica Braham and Alana Rodney. Back row: Alex Rodriguez, Paige Martinez, Chris Zachary, Joshua Jones, James Ball and Brian Booton.
Pre-pandemic photo taken by Roger Meissen

Thanks to support from the National Institutes of Health, the University of Missouri operates two complementary programs designed to help create the researchers needed to face these myriad problems and to support and train our next generation of diverse research leaders and innovators in biomedical and behavioral sciences.

Both the Initiative to Maximize Student Diversity (IMSD) and Maximizing Access to Research Careers (MARC) integrate academic and social support with mentoring and paid research opportunities that prepare students to matriculate into research-focused graduate programs.

MARC/IMSD has been funded at Mizzou by the National Institutes of Health for almost 20 years. IMSD is also currently funded by the Office of the Provost. Students and faculty mentors who participate in the program receive significant benefits: Faculty have student staff paid by program funds, and students receive training in addition to paid work experience in the labs, plus support for conference travel, and paid tuition and generous stipends for fellows. Additionally, the program provides all the benefits that come with belonging to a supportive scientific community — mentorship, speakers, and other opportunities to meet world-renowned researchers and program alumni, and assistance with moving through a science career — from identifying opportunities, to test preparation and assistance with applications to summer programs and graduate school.


The IMSD Apprentice Program is for freshmen and sophomores who are beginning their science journey. Once joining the program, they progress through the program as follows:

Stage I Apprentices — Freshmen, Sophomores and First-Year Transfer Students

  • Attend a weekly seminar designed to provide social and academic support, plus exploration of careers in biomedical research (Every Wednesday, 4-5 p.m.).
  • Meet regularly with a MARC/IMSD Fellow peer mentor — a student who has successfully navigated the curriculum and the program and can now help their science journey.
  • Complete research training and development programs.
  • Identify faculty for mentored research opportunities.
  • Maintain a high level of academic achievement.

Stage II Apprentices — Second Semester Freshmen, Sophomores and Transfer Students

  • Continue to attend the weekly seminar, maintain high academic achievement, complete any needed training and development and meet regularly with a peer mentor.
  • Obtain a paid research lab position with a faculty mentor (salary is paid by the IMSD program) for up to 12 hours during the fall and spring semesters.
  • Present research at an on-campus forum and, if selected, have additional opportunities to present research at state or national conferences.
  • Students who wish to continue working part-time in the summer, up to 20 hours per week, can apply by submitting requests from both the student and the faculty mentor.

Participation as an IMSD Apprentice is limited to funding in three regular academic year semesters and one summer.

  • For a person entering the program as a typical freshman, that means the student will enter a lab in the spring semester, possibly stay on campus for the summer in a full or part-time lab position and continue through two semesters of sophomore year. A sophomore will be eligible through fall and spring of their junior year.
  • It is expected that after four semesters of IMSD funding, students will advance through the MARC/IMSD Fellows program or obtain financial support through other funding sources.

Competitive Funding Opportunities

Summer Internships

In addition to part-time summer work, freshmen who qualify for the MARC/IMSD program may apply for a full-time immersive summer internship. This is a competitive program that requires a short project description and faculty recommendations.

Sophomore students have two options. They may apply as fellows, discussed below, or just as summer interns. They may also apply as fellows, with an option for just summer if they are not awarded a fellowship and they have not already been in the program for a summer session. The sophomore summer internship application is the same as the fellows application: it requires a full project proposal instead of the abbreviated project description required for freshmen.  

The summer internship provides a stipend of $4,000 (in 2021), plus a campus meal plan and either paid MU housing, or a stipend for those already living off-campus.


Maximizing Access to Research Careers is a program funded by the National Institutes of Health. At MU, this program is supplemented with additional positions by the Provost through IMSD. This is a competitive program with limited positions (currently 18 juniors and seniors) and significant stipends and scholarships (currently $1,137 per month and up to $16,000 per year towards tuition and fees) for a full academic year, plus a full-time immersive summer experience. Additionally, fellows:

  • Complete an independent faculty-mentored research project during the fall and spring semesters
  • Meet regularly with a graduate student mentor
  • Have the opportunity to serve as mentors and leaders to IMSD apprentices
  • Travel to a national conference to present a research poster; and
  • Prepare to apply to graduate programs by investigating opportunities, networking, building resumes, and participating in program-supported test preparation.
If you are interested in participating in any of these programs, please visit How to Apply for more information.

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