Professor earns $3M grant to create new science research programs at CSU San Marcos

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) — A Cal State San Marcos psychology professor has earned a $3.2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to increase diversity in the biomedical and behavioral sciences, the school announced Friday.

The NIH grant to Professor Keith Trujillo’s will come over a five-year span and establish a program at CSUSM allowing students to prepare for graduate studies and careers in the sciences.

The goal of the program — the Undergraduate Research Training Initiative for Student Enhancement, or U-RISE — is to develop a diverse pool of undergraduates who earn a degree and transition into and complete biomedical, research-focused higher-degree programs.

U-RISE at CSU San Marcos will replace two extant programs under the Office for Research, Training and Education in the Sciences, of which Trujillo directed for more than a decade: Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement and Maximizing Access to Research Careers. Those programs have offered academic support, professional development, research opportunities and other activities aimed at helping CSUSM students prepare for graduate studies.

“Over the past 20 years, CSUSM has become a leader at increasing diversity in the sciences through funding from the National Institutes of Health,” Trujillo said. “I am excited to be part of the continuing work to prepare students for graduate studies in biomedical and behavioral research so that they can become leaders in their scientific fields. And I’d like to acknowledge the many other hard-working members of the CSUSM community who are contributing to this work. Many CSUSM students who might never have considered careers in science are now completing their doctorates and going on to very successful careers.”

The programs U-RISE is replacing have helped more than 300 students transition to graduate studies, all from underrepresented and/or low-income and/or first-generation backgrounds. The students have gone on to careers as university and college faculty, researchers in academia and the biotechnology industry, among other positions that allow them to contribute to scientific understanding and the health and wellbeing of others.

Trujillo has been a professor at CSUSM since 1994. In 2017, he was one of four faculty members in the 23-campus California State University system to receive the Wang Family Excellence Award for exemplary contributions and achievements that advance the CSU’s mission. That same year, he was named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science for of his scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications.

In 2001, he earned CSU San Marcos’ President’s Award for Scholarly and Creative Activity. Other honors include the National Award of Excellence in Mentorship from the National Hispanic Science Network on Drug Abuse; the Award for Education in Neuroscience from the Society of Neuroscience; and the National Award for Research from the National Hispanic Science Network on Drug Abuse.

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