New Diversity Initiative

Erin Banks
Erin Banks

































The Initiative for Maximizing Student Diversity (IMSD) seems like an impressive title for a student program. However, what is truly inspiring about the IMSD program is not the name, but the men and women that represent it.

The IMSD program is funded by the National Institutes of Health and promotes and facilitates the research of college students at qualifying research institutions. More specifically, the programs goal is to “target underrepresented minority students majoring in the biomedical and behavioral sciences or in medical, dental, or veterinary training who are interested in pursuing research careers,” according to NIH.

North Carolina State University was provided $2.1 million of funding to recruit and retain graduate and undergraduate students over the next 4 years.

“The IMSD students are committed, hard working, and high achievers,” Erin Banks, the Program Coordinator for IMSD, said. “They have high expectations and goals. They are determined to succeed.”

Banks said this program has helped to identify students and address issues such as the “lack of representation of minority students in the areas of biomedical and behavioral sciences, especially in the areas of research.”

The IMSD program is multifaceted. It not only funds graduate students for two years, it also fosters relationships with faculty and undergraduate students, provides professional development skills and mentorship. The program encourages faculty to mentor their respective IMSD undergraduate and graduate students, while the IMSD graduate students mentor their undergraduate counterparts.

One of the main goals of the IMSD program is to prepare undergraduate and graduate students through resources, guidance and support to be researchers in the areas of biomedical and/or behavioral sciences.

Graduate students in the IMSD program also said they appreciate the professional development and networking opportunities, as well as, the social events with guest speakers.

In terms of funding, the program provides tuition and fees, student health insurance, and stipends for IMSD graduate students and an hourly salary for IMSD undergraduate students. All students are provided funding for travel and supplies.

Danielle Robbins, doctoral student in biomathematics, said “ to me, IMSD means interaction with other students you can identify with. The program also offers mentoring -- which is key in finishing graduate school.”

With funding received through the program, students are able to attend conferences, where they can “meet people whose work they have studied,” said Fantasy Lozada, doctoral student in developmental psychology, who completed her bachelor’s of psychology at UNC-Pembroke.

Additionally, “IMSD is a bridge or link to help me ease into the larger university setting,” said Lozada.

She also noted that the program allows her to work closely with her advisor, while also meeting graduate students in other programs.

Participating IMSD faculty mentors are nationally and internationally recognized for research in their respective areas, Banks said.

Along with the many benefits provided by the IMSD program, Banks and her IMSD students also offered words of wisdom from their own college experiences.

“Perseverance is key,” said Robbins, who received her master’s of applied mathematics from Arizona State University. “Setbacks happen, but you have to persevere and ask for help.”

Lozada echoed Robbins, adding, “you are your own biggest critic, which can hurt or help you. You just have to keep it in check.”

“Commit yourself to succeeding” Banks added. “Don’t give up. Just keep pushing forward.

For more information on how to apply to the program, contact Erin Banks at 919-513-1635 or visit the program website at

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