Grambling wins $1.7 million Stem Grant


Grambling State University has been awarded a $1.7 million, five-year grant by the National Institutes of Health to provide graduate degree opportunities to under-represented honors students.

“Cutting across race and ethnicity is low or poor socioeconomic status, both of which influence career choices and opportunities,” said Mack Himaya, a professor in the university’s Department of Mathematics and Physics and the director of the university’s MARC program at GSU. “While efforts continue to be made to recruit individuals to the biological and biomedical sciences, challenges of access, motivation, retention, academic and social support persists.”

 “This program provides an abundance of opportunities for not only those students who are a part of the MARC program but others as well,” added Connie Walton, provost and vice president of academic affairs. “Activities promoted by MARC support student success.  The program has been responsible for sponsoring specific activities that
have included tutorial sessions, GRE reviews and summer internship

The Minority Access to Research Careers program, commonly called MARC, was first funded in 1998. To date, the federal government’s National Institute of General Medical Sciences at the National Institutes of Health (NIGMS/NIH) has funded the MARC Scholars program at Grambling state with a cumulative award of $5,746,454. 

The MARC grant provides training for racial and ethnic minorities who account for more than 25% of the nation’s population but fewer than 8% of scientists nationally. MARC better ensures success as strong students work toward the completion of undergraduate degrees then admission to and the completion of Ph.D. degree programs in biomedical sciences. Grambling State emphasizes the importance of the country’s economic growth depending largely on the availability of scientists, mathematics, and engineers and inventions and ideas related to the Internet, smart phones and healthcare technology.

Since the program was launched at Grambling State, there have been 69 MARC Scholars. Himaya said a more diverse melting pot of scientists is essential, and this NIH grant is an important seed for identifying and engaging committed honors students who can help develop a culture that more closely mirrors the U.S. population. 

In each of the past five years, the university has had 12 slots for special students. Seven MARC graduates completed the Ph.D. degree in Biomedical Sciences and additional 10 graduates are still in the pipeline.  MARC participants spend summer months for summer research internship at research-intensive institutions throughout the country.  Students present their research efforts at national research conferences.

Some of Grambling State’s science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) MARC participants are now working for the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, the Social Security Administration and at major universities across the nation. They attended and graduated with a medical degree or a Ph.D. from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Vanderbilt University, the Morehouse School of Medicine, Carnegie Mellon at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Illinois – Chicago, among others.

Himaya said current Grambling State University and non-Grambling State students can apply for one of the prestigious positions in the program, which has a 100% graduation rate compared to a 44% success rate for African American students at state-supported, flagship universities. Applicants must have a major in biology, chemistry, math, physics or computer science.

To qualify to become a MARC scholar, a student must be a first-semester junior with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0. Students must carry a full-time course load of 12 credit hours or more and commit to pursuing a Ph.D. degree, medical degree or an M.D./Ph.D. degree in biomedical sciences.  Applicants are required to be a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident.  Successful in-state student applicants receive a two-year fellowship of up to $36,718. Successful out-state applicants can receive up to $47,718.

Students interested in the MARC Scholars program can call the MARC office at 318-274-4464 or send an email to