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Professor Receives $3M Grant to Continue Work Increasing Diversity in Sciences

Cal State San Marcos psychology professor Keith Trujillo has received a grant of more than $3 million from the National Institutes of Health to continue his longstanding work to increase diversity in the biomedical and behavioral sciences.  

The grant of $3.2 million over five years from the NIH will establish a program called U-RISE@CSUSM, which will help CSUSM students prepare for graduate studies and careers in the sciences. The goal of U-RISE, a national program that stands for Undergraduate Research Training Initiative for Student Enhancement, is to develop a diverse pool of undergraduates who complete their baccalaureate degree, and transition into and complete biomedical, research-focused higher degree programs. 

U-RISE@CSUSM will replace two programs that currently exist under the Office for Research, Training and Education in the Sciences (OTRES), of which Trujillo has been the director for more than a decade. RISE (Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement) and MARC (Maximizing Access to Research Careers) have offered academic support, professional development, research opportunities and other activities aimed at helping CSUSM students prepare for graduate studies. 

OTRES was launched at the university, with funding from NIH, by Victor Rocha in 2000; it was originally called the Office for Biomedical Research and Training (OBRT).  

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. 

U-RISE@CSUSM will build on the stellar results achieved by RISE and MARC. The programs 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, and other positions that allow them to contribute to scientific understanding and the health and well-being of others. 

The NIH grant is just the latest notable career achievement for Trujillo, who 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 prestigious 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 because of his scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications.   

In 2001, he earned CSUSM’s 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.