The keystone of DBBS diversity efforts is the NIH-funded Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD) Program. Initiated in 2013, the core mission of the IMSD program is to increase the number of PhD trainees and scientists from historically underrepresented groups in the sciences and to facilitate their success in graduate school, as well as driving excellence and innovation in scientific pursuits. We achieve this mission by training students to think critically and to write and speak effectively about science, by providing students with novel professional development and career training, and by creating a positive, personal, supportive, and critical scientific community in which our students thrive. 

Through engaging students with regular group meetings, networking and social events, professional development workshops, seminars, and supplemental advising and instruction, we have created a vibrant IMSD community of over 80 PhD students. Many of these students also actively participate in a host of community engagement and educational activities we sponsor with local underserved high schools and community organizations. IMSD events and workshops are also open to the entire DBBS student community and help to broaden the understanding of who can be a scientist.

IMSD program benefits/activities

  • Competitive stipend
  • Travel awards to conferences
  • Academic and professional development workshops and seminars
  • Supplemental advising and instruction
  • Pre-matriculation curriculum
  • Community of scholars 

Selection criteria

To ensure your consideration for the IMSD program you must: 

  • Apply to the DBBS graduate programs online 
  • Indicate your interest in the IMSD program 
  • Have very strong letters of recommendation 
  • Be a US citizen or Permanent Resident 
  • Self identify as an underrepresented student (ethnic minority, socioeconomically disadvantaged, and/or learning/physically disabled) 

Program contacts

Dr. Jim Skeath

IMSD Program Co-Director

Dr. Tracey Hermanstyne

IMSD Program Co-Director