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New Grant Eases Path From Fresno State to UC Merced Ph.D.

August 26, 2015

Fresno State University students seeking doctoral degrees from UC Merced in biomedical or behavioral sciences will find a smoother path thanks to a new grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  

UC Merced Professor Andy LiWang and Fresno State Professor Krish Krishnan recently won a nearly $1.4 million Bridges to the Doctorate grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS). The program will recruit four to eight Fresno State students each year who demonstrate the commitment and potential to complete a Ph.D. program at UC Merced. The grant, which is the first of its kind at UC Merced, will support and train 36 students over a total of five years. 

“The NIH Bridges grant adds to the growing list of competitive research and training grants UC Merced faculty members have received in recent years,” Vice Provost and Graduate Dean Marjorie Zatz said. “This demonstrates the caliber of our faculty in the eyes of the research community, as well as our strong commitment to expanding the pool of STEM scholars through explicit outreach to highly qualified members of underrepresented groups.”

First Students Selected This Fall

Beginning this fall, students selected for the Bridges program will complete their master’s degree training with Krishnan and affiliated faculty members at Fresno State, including Professors Jason Bush, Alam Hasson, Lorin Lachs, Alejandro Calderon-Urrea and Joy Goto.

There, the students will receive financial support and academic guidance as they develop their scientific and research skills while furthering their training with summer internships at UC Merced. After completing their master’s degrees, Bridges scholars will transition to more intensive research and study in Ph.D. programs at UC Merced. 

“This is a great opportunity for students from the Fresno/Merced area to pursue both master’s and Ph.D. programs in biomedical or behavioral sciences right here in the Central Valley,” Krishnan said. “The Bridges program will strengthen the research collaborations and catalyze future interactions between students and faculty at Fresno State and UC Merced.”

LiWang Supports Undergrads, Outreach

LiWang, a faculty member with the School of Natural Sciences and the Health Sciences Research Institute, supports undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral researchers in his lab, leading to publication in prestigious journals such as Science. He is also involved with a number of programs that seek to actively recruit students at all levels for scientific research. 

Since 2009, LiWang has participated in the American Chemical Society’s Summer Experience for the Economically Disadvantaged (SEED) Project, a nationwide program to get high school students from poor families into university labs for hands-on research experience. He also participates in the Merced County Office of Education’s annual Dinner with a Scientist program, which seeks to excite middle school students about scientific research. 

“I feel strongly about UC Merced’s mission to have a transformative effect on the San Joaquin Valley,” LiWang said. “In addition to helping students secure well-paying jobs and careers, advanced degrees in science boost our nation’s lead in creativity and innovation, producing knowledge and products that are in global demand.”