2018-2019 Graduate Mentoring Research Assistantships (GMRAs)

standing graduate students in front of Murie building

BLaST Graduate Mentoring Research Assistants at the Fall BLaST Orientation August 25, 2018 - Fairbanks UAF Campus. Pictured from left to right: Lisa Smith, Yoko Kugo, Sasha White, Marianne Lian, Aline Collin, Tynan Becker, and Kimi Yatsushiro.

Proposals for this funding opportunity have been selected for the 2018-2019 year. Future funding opportunities are on hold until further notice. For information about current GMRAs, see:

Current funded GMRAs' Funding Period: August 19, 2018 – June 30, 2019

The selection process included the following:


The Biomedical Learning and Student Training (BLaST) program invites proposals for Graduate Mentoring Research Assistantships (GMRA) yearly to enhance undergraduate mentoring in biomedical research.

The overarching goal of BLaST is to enhance undergraduate training and mentoring in biomedical research through increased diversity of students, increased integration of research and teaching, and enhanced integration of rural campuses into a cohesive biomedical community in Alaska.

BLaST is one of ten Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity (BUILD) initiatives funded by the NIH. The NIH encourages institutions to enhance the participation of individuals from groups identified as underrepresented in the biomedical, clinical, behavioral and social sciences, such as: 1) individuals from racial and ethnic groups that have been shown to be underrepresented in health-related sciences on a national basis [Blacks or African Americans, Hispanics or Latinos, American Indians or Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders]; 2) individuals with disabilities, who are defined as those with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; and 3) individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, defined as (a) individuals who come from a family with an annual income below established low-income thresholds periodically published at and (b) individuals who come from an educational environment such as that found in certain rural or inner-city environments that has demonstrably and directly inhibited the individual from obtaining the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to develop and participate in a research career. For a complete description of the NIH’s Interest in Diversity see:


Applicants must be full-time graduate students currently enrolled in Ph.D. or Master’s Degree programs at UAF or UAS in good academic standing (min. 3.0 GPA). Applicants are expected to have already formed a graduate advisory committee and filed a graduate study plan (GSP). If they have not done so yet, they must explain the reason (e.g. new student status).

Graduate students at all participating institutions (UAF and UAS) with interest in biomedical research are eligible to apply.


Graduate Mentoring Research Assistantships (GMRAs) may receive up to 10 months of stipend, tuition support (up to 9 credit hours per semester) for the fall and spring academic semesters, and graduate student health care insurance. The stipend is for 20 hours a week in the fall and spring and 40 hours a week in the summer. Pay will be provided at the appropriate research assistantship level for the applicant’s degree status. To maintain an active award, all of the following criteria must be met:

  • mentor at least one undergraduate in research throughout the award period;
  • take all required trainings including RCR and at least two mentor trainings;
  • enroll full-time in a graduate program at UAF or UAS throughout the payment period;
  • maintain good academic standing (3.0 GPA) throughout fall and spring semesters of the award year;
  • provide information for interim and annual reports and surveys
  • meet with BLaST PI and Director one time each semester;
  • present at BLaST-sponsored on-campus seminars and courses, an Alaska conference (UABRC, AAAS, WAISC, or a BLaST event), and/or at a national professional meeting if appropriate and cite BLaST in all presentations (see for instructions) (go to for more information on travel awards)
  • review BLaST Undergraduate Research Experience proposals.


We suggest that you prepare all sections of the application in a word processor, so that you can cut and paste the text into the application itself. This is because once you begin the application, you cannot save and return at a later time. Once you submit, you cannot edit your submission. The following must be prepared prior to beginning the application:

Describe Undergraduate Mentoring Experience: In 200 words or less, describe your past mentoring of undergraduate students. About how many students have you mentored in research? Did these students present posters or talks at local, regional, or national meetings? Were any of these students a co-author on a submitted or published manuscript?

Describe Undergraduate Mentoring Philosophy: In 200 words or less, describe how you approach mentoring and how you optimize student experiences when they participate in research. If you do not have experience mentoring undergraduate students in research, explain why you want to get involved in such activities. Describe the resources that will guide your mentoring activities (advisors and colleagues who will mentor you or agencies such as the Council on Undergraduate Research or the American Physiological Society, American Society for Microbiology, etc.).

Describe Biomedicine, One Health and/or Subsistence Health Relevance: In 200 words or less, describe the biomedical, One Health, and/or subsistence health relevance of your project (descriptions of Biomedicine, One Health, and Subsistence are available at

Attach a Document of Your Project Description (3 pages total; 0.5-inch margins; Arial 11pt font): Include:

A) Specific Aims 

B) Significance: Explain the importance of the problem or critical barrier to progress in the field that the proposed project addresses. Explain how the proposed project will improve scientific knowledge, technical capability, and/or clinical practice in one or more broad fields. Describe how the concepts, methods, technologies, treatments, services, or preventative interventions that drive this field will be changed if the proposed aims are achieved. If appropriate, explain the project’s potential to lead to a marketable product, process, or service.

C) Innovation: Explain how the application challenges and seeks to shift current research or clinical practice paradigms. Describe any novel theoretical concepts, approaches or methodologies, instrumentation or interventions to be developed or used, and any advantage over existing methodologies, instrumentation, or interventions. Explain any refinements, improvements, or new applications of theoretical concepts, approaches or methodologies, instrumentation, or interventions.

D) Approach: Describe the overall strategy, methodology, and analyses to be used to accomplish the specific aims of the project. Include how the data will be collected, analyzed, and interpreted. Discuss potential problems, alternative strategies, and benchmarks for success anticipated during the course of the project. Describe the strategy to establish feasibility. Provide a tentative sequence or timetable for the project.

E) Undergraduate Involvement: How will undergraduate mentees be recruited and what will be their role in the research project?

Attach References Cited

Attach Curriculum Vitae or Resume


The BLaST Advisory Committee will review proposals. Funding priority will be assigned to projects that directly enhance undergraduate student training opportunities in biomedical research with a special emphasis on students from/in rural Alaska and health-related issues relevant to the concerns of rural Alaskans. Based on these priorities, the following criteria will be used for evaluating proposals:

1) scientific merit based on significance, innovation, and approach;

2) research training opportunities for undergraduate students; 3) biomedical/One Health relevance; 4) capacity building in Alaska to enhance undergraduate research training.  Additional preference will be given to proposals at rural campuses and projects in rural communities. 

Upon completion of the review process, each student are provided with the committee critiques.


For further information, contact BLaST at (907) 474-5111 or via email at uaf-blast@alaska.