March 2 Application Deadline to Join BUILD PODER's Fourth Cohort Approaches

February 19, 2018

BUILD PODER students practicing pipetting in biology lab
BUILD PODER students practicing pipetting in Summer Jumpstart 2017 skills training course.




March 2 Application Deadline Approaches to Join BUILD PODER's Fourth Cohort

(NORTHRIDGE, Calif., Feb. 19, 2018) — California State University, Northridge’s only social justice-based undergraduate biomedical research training program BUILD PODER is recruiting 75 new CSUN and community college students for its fourth cohort, to enter the program this summer.

Students at CSUN and at one of BUILD PODER’s four community college pipeline partners—Los Angeles Valley College, Los Angeles Pierce College, East Los Angeles College and Pasadena City College—majoring in the biological, life, health, physical and social sciences as well as engineering, computer science and math can apply online by 5 p.m. on March 2.

The program currently supports over 130 students at CSUN and at the community colleges. CSUN students will benefit from research training, one-on-one mentoring with a faculty member, and financial assistance—it sponsors 60 percent of participants’ tuition, grants priority registration and provides $8,600-$12,100 per year per student in paid faculty-mentored research, travel and research funds, free tutoring, a GRE prep course and funds to present at national academic conferences. Community College students will benefit from paid research, travel, research and conference funds, and free tutoring.

BUILD PODER, which stands for Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity (BUILD) Promoting Opportunities for Diversity in Education and Research (PODER), was established at CSUN in 2014 with a $22 million grant from the National Institutes of Health. CSUN is one of 10 BUILD sites across the nation immersing students in biomedical research, which is defined as the broad area of science that looks for ways to prevent and treat diseases causing illness and death in people and animals. At CSUN, this definition is expanded to include research that focuses on health and reducing health disparities.

CSUN’s BUILD program is also unique in that it is based on critical race theory (CRT), which examines how implicit racism can shape the lives of people of color and how it plays out in their daily experiences. BUILD PODER uses CRT as the foundation for faculty mentor training, to help faculty understand and better relate to students from communities that differ from their own. CRT also guides the Summer Jumpstart research preparation program and all student training to prepare students for graduate programs, most of which are less diverse than CSUN.

Gabriela Chavira  ’94 (Psychology/Chicano Studies), who is a principal investigator of the grant and serves as the program director for the student training core, said the incoming cohort will benefit from the program’s growth and development over the last three years.

“We’ve learned a lot about what our students need to succeed, across the past three cohorts” Chavira said. “This year we are seeing the positive effects and outcomes of our student training. Our Summer Jumpstart’s skills training and community building increases students’ resilience during the academic year, we have solid partnerships with research institutions that our  students are taking advantage of during their summers, and students are getting into graduate programs at great universities."

CSUN Alumnus Calvin Apodaca ‘17 (Biology), who joined BUILD PODER as part of its first cohort in 2015 and is one of the first nine graduates of the program, said the program was life-changing. Apodaca is earning a Ph.D. in biomedical and health informatics at the University of Washington, working as a research associate on Patients as Safeguards, an RO1 grant by the U.S. Agency of Health Research and Quality.  Apodaca attributes his academic success to the opportunities and support BUILD PODER provided.

“Without BUILD PODER, there is absolutely no chance I'd be where I am today,” Apodaca said. “Being a BUILD PODER scholar opened my eyes to the world of research, and allowed me to push myself higher and farther in academia than I'd ever thought I'd reach. I've met fantastic mentors and friends that I'm still in contact with today.”

The program is open to full-time sophomores and juniors who have a GPA of 3.0 or higher and have two to three years remaining in their degree programs. Applicants must be U.S. citizens, nationals or permanent residents. Students must show interest in biomedical and health disparities research and commit to applying to graduate programs. Though the program especially encourages members from underrepresented groups, based on race and ethnicity, disability, and socio-economic disadvantage to apply, anyone outside of these groups are welcome to apply as well.

Students can access the application online. Applicants must provide two letters of recommendation and answer four short-essay questions. Accepted applicants must attend a four-week Summer Jumpstart research program from July 16 to August 10, and devote nine to 11 hours per week to research during the fall semester, plus other course requirements. Students must choose a research project to work on with their faculty mentor.  

The final application workshop sponsored by BUILD PODER will take place from 5-6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 27 in Sierra Hall 389 at CSUN.

To apply, visit or call 818-677-4863.

For more in-depth features, please visit

For photos, visit our Flickr gallery at