RU Undergrads: FAQS

What is the RUP - IMSD program?


The Rutgers University Pipeline (RUP) program exists to expose and train students for possible careers in biological/biomedical science.  Thanks to NIH support from the Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD) Program, we provide opportunities for Rutgers undergrads, particularly those who are from groups historically under-represented in the biological/biomedical sciences, to get hands-on training and experience in research in a supportive and mentored environment. 


For our Rutgers undergraduate participants, we provide:

  • on-campus summer and academic year research opportunities with financial support

  • year-round mentoring and advising

  • academic and career counseling and exposure,

  • skills development workshops and seminars.

  • opportunities and financial support to attend regional or national science conferences

We aim to build a supportive community of undergraduate and graduate researchers on campus, with strong links to students in other research-oriented programs.


How does the program work?


  • If you are in your sophomore year, you can apply to the program, first through an application form, then through an interview/discussion with our Program Coordinator.  If accepted, you will participate in a well-respected 10-week summer research program at Rutgers known as RiSE (Research in Science and Engineering). In this program, you’ll perform research in a lab of a Rutgers faculty member, and participate in a number of other activities and seminars to strengthen your communication skills, the various professional opportunities in science, and other areas. You’ll become part of a research community. (Additional information about RiSE can be found below and at RiSE (Research in Science and Engineering) at Rutgers.


  • For the 10-week summer RiSE program, we provide a salary of $5000. Scholars may live at home and commute, or make arrangements to stay locally, but we can’t provide housing.


  • Scholars who choose to continue their research activities during the academic year can either conduct research for academic credit (generally 6 or more hours/week), or will be provided a salary of $500 per semester, for a minimum commitment of 6 hours/week. The commitment will be negotiated with the Faculty member running the lab. In addition, the lab in which you work will receive up to $250/semester to support the cost of materials that you will use for you experiments.



Am I eligible?


Rutgers students who are U.S. citizens, or who are non-citizen nationals or permanent residents, and are matriculated full-time in a baccalaureate program are encouraged to apply. RUP-IMSD scholars are expected to maintain a GPA of 3.25. (If you have a question about the GPA, ask!)  Students in their sophomore year or above are encouraged to apply.


Students should have completed the Biology 117 lab course, or an experimental inquiry-based equivalent (check with the RUP-IMSD Program Director if you have a question!).


The RUP-IMSD program is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and is part of the Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD) Program of the NIGMS. The national goal of the NIH IMSD Program is “is to increase the number of students from groups under-represented (UR) in the biomedical sciences that graduate from Ph.D. programs”. Therefore, students from UR groups, including those reported by the National Science Foundation as well as the National Academies to be nationally under-represented in the biomedical sciences (i.e., African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, natives of U.S. Pacific Islands and people with disabilities), will be given a priority for funded positions. However, program-related activities, including mentoring, career awareness, science presentations, etc., are open to all RU students. Since we have a limited number of positions (generally 10 per year), we also encourage all Rutgers students to explore the many other research programs on campus, such as those offered through the Aresty Research Center.


I am not a Rutgers-New Brunswick student - am I eligible?

Although the grant focuses on RU students on the New Brunswick/Piscataway campus, there may be limited openings for RU students from the Newark or Camden campuses. Contact us ( to discuss.


Do I have to pay to participate?




Will I be paid if I participate?




Sounds interesting! How can I find more information about this program?


Contact the Program Coordinator ( to set up a first meeting to discuss the program. After that, if you want to apply, you will need to fill out a program application. In most cases, sophomores will begin with participation as RUP-IMSD Scholars in the RiSE program, which requires that you also submit an application for summer research through the RiSE at Rutgers website.  If you are not a sophomore, you can discuss where to begin with the RUP-IMSD Program Coordinator. For the RUP-IMSD, you will need to submit a copy of your transcript and 2 letters of recommendation. Students who are accepted as RUP-IMSD trainees will also be asked to complete and submit a RUP-IMSD Undergraduate Contract that outlines the program expectations and obligations, before the start of the summer program.


How do I find a faculty mentor?


RUP-IMSD scholars meet with the Program Coordinator or Director to discuss their interests and identify potential Faculty mentors. The Program Coordinator or Director will then contact the Faculty. Faculty members have the final say on whether the RUP-IMSD scholar may work their lab.


What finances are covered through the RUP program?


As mentioned above, RUP–IMSD Scholars receive $3000 for participating in the 10-week summer “RiSE at Rutgers” research program.  During the academic year, students may receive $500 per semester for lab research, with a minimum commitment of 6 hours per week (if agreed with the laboratory faculty). Alternatively, RUP –IMSD scholars may perform research for academic credit, in which case they will not be paid.  Scholars are encouraged to attend and present their research at scientific conferences, and are eligible for $500 in travel support from the RUP-IMSD program.  Students will also be encouraged to apply for travel stipends from scientific societies, conference organizations, and the School. 


What are you looking for in RUP-IMSD Scholars?


 We’re looking for students who are curious about the natural world, and who wish to explore the excitement of biological/biomedical research as a possible career.  Beyond that, some general qualities for success include self-motivation, curiosity, a willingness to ask questions, and a good work ethic. No research experience, other than what is offered in the Biology 117 lab course or an experimental inquiry-based equivalent, is required.


What is the summer “RiSE at Rutgers” research program?


RiSE is an established Rutgers 10-week, full-time summer program that provides an in-depth laboratory research experience for undergrads. Participants are matched to RU labs. There they conduct research projects at least 4 days/week for 10-weeks. RiSE scholars generally work under a professor, with the direction of a grad student, technician or post-doctoral research fellow. RiSE also provides a weekly seminar in a group setting. In these seminars students learn to talk and write about their research as it evolves, discuss scientific issues, and gain presentation and analytical skills. In addition, there are weekly talks from faculty and invited guests about careers, skills, and other topics. And, yes, RiSE also offers several social events. The program culminates in 2 symposia where students get to present their research results in a poster format and as an oral presentation. The technical and presentation skills for these presentations are developed during the seminar. Students frequently attend and present at regional or national conferences after  finishing the RiSE program.


How does Academic Year research work?


Juniors with summer research experience are encouraged to continue research during the academic year, either in the same lab as their summer research, or another lab, pending agreement with the mentor, and their own interests. Academic-year research scholars will be eligible for RUP-IMSD salary support ($500/semester), or possibly receive support from the Aresty Research Assistant Program, as determined by the RUP-IMSD and Aresty Directors, or from their research mentors. Alternatively, they may register for academic credit. Students will be encouraged to write a senior honors thesis. Host laboratories will receive $250 per semester to defray the cost of materials. We have a required monthly seminar that will include presentations and activities on students’ research; career and educational planning; “soft-skills” training, such as study skills, time management, interview and networking skills. The seminar will include talks and informal get-togethers with current grad student, postdocs, and scientists (including IMSD alumni) in pharmaceutical, translational and biotech research, or related careers such as education and scientific writing.


Do I have to stay in the same lab that I was in for the summer program?


Not necessarily. If you want to try a different lab, the Program staff will discuss your ideas with you and help guide you in your search.


As a RUP-IMSD Scholar, can I apply to summer research programs at other universities for the summer before my senior year?


Yes! During the course of the academic year, RUP-IMSD scholars meet regularly with the Program Coordinator, both as a group and individually. As part of these meetings, you will discuss the pros and cons of conducting research at Rutgers during the summer after junior year, or finding a program at another university.  You will also be given guidance about searching and applying for programs at other universities. With Rutgers’ membership in the CIC (academic consortium of “Big 10” schools), applying to summer research programs within the CIC schools is especially easy (


How does this relate to the possibility of a Senior Honors Thesis?


We expect that RUP-IMSD Scholars who continue their research into the senior year will be well prepared to submit a Senior Honors Thesis.


Research: Some General Questions


What is research, anyway?


Research is the process of creating new knowledge among a community of learners and scholars that includes undergraduates, graduate students, faculty, and community members. Research begins with a question: Why? How? What if…? To answer these questions, students in biological/biomedical sciences pursue interests in fields as varied as nutritional science, molecular biology, cancer biology, drug action, neuroscience, genetics, physiology, biochemistry, molecular structure, among many others.


Why do research?


Research is about curiosity and discovery. It’s an opportunity to learn first-hand how we discover new things about the biological world, and to contribute your talents to that pursuit. In the biological/biomedical sciences, you’ll not only learn more about the processes and parts of the natural world, you'll learn how to formulate questions, design experiments or other approaches to find answers, collect and analyze data, draw conclusions from that data, and share your findings with a community. Doing research will also make you an informed consumer of the research that you encounter on a daily basis: you'll be able to evaluate the information presented to you as a citizen of our complex society, and make informed decisions about all kinds of public policy issues that affect your everyday life. And finally, research prepares you for the world beyond Rutgers by honing your independent thinking and creativity, time-management and budget skills, and confidence in your academic and career goals.


How do I get started?


If you are interested in conducting research as an undergraduate, you have already taken the first step by attending Rutgers. Engaging undergraduates in the discovery of knowledge is at the very heart of the Rutgers mission. There are at least two paths to research projects at Rutgers:

i) applying to formal programs like:

  • RUP-IMSD, the Rutgers University Pipeline-Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (RUP-IMSD) program, funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health, is just one of the various routes to doing research at Rutgers. 

  • Aresty Programs

ii) approaching a faculty member directly about opportunities in their lab.

You might also want to consult the Rutgers Undergraduate Research site .  Whether through taking a research-intensive course, working in one of Rutgers’ many centers and institutes, or teaming up with a favorite professor to pursue a mutual academic interest, the opportunities to become involved in research abound for students of all majors.


What would I do in a research setting?


In the biological/biomedical sciences, you’d most likely be working in a lab setting, alongside others who would serve as your guides and mentors. These include the faculty member, post-doctoral fellows, graduate students, other more experienced undergrads, or research technicians. Labs differ in size, some large, some small, and each lab has its own “culture”. At the beginning, you’d probably watch, learn some techniques and laboratory “etiquette”, get comfortable in the setting, read to understand what the important questions of the lab are, what the scientific context is of the experiments being conducted, and how the techniques you’re using actually work. As the lab and your mentors gain confidence in your abilities, you’d be expected to work with less supervision. Your work might be helping a grad student or post-doc with their experiments, or, over time, you might be entrusted with a project of your own. It depends on how the lab works and how you prove yourself.  It’s also possible that you could be working on a computer-based “bioinformatics” or computational project.



*The Rutgers University Pipeline (RUP)-IMSD Program is funded by Grant #R25 GM055145, through the Initiative for Maximizing Student Diversity (IMSD) Program of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

For the purpose of the IMSD program, UR groups include those reported by the National Science Foundation as well as the National Academies to be nationally underrepresented in biomedical sciences (i.e., African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, natives of U.S. Pacific Islands and people with disabilities).



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