The Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (RISE) is a student development program for minority-serving institutions granted by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (R25GM082406). Its main purpose is to increase the number of students from groups underrepresented in the biomedical/behavioral sciences that complete PhD degrees, advance to competitive postdoctoral positions, and enter productive research careers.

The RISE Program at Ponce Health Science University has specific measurable objectives that aim to provide trainees with continuing and enhanced:

1. Hands-on professional development and research skills training
2. Communication skills training
3. Team building/networking opportunities


RISE eligibility criteria:

  • US citizens or permanent residents
  • Enrolled full-time in the PHSU Biomedical Sciences PhD program.

Application deadline to Ph.D. program is April 15. Application forms are available in the PHSU admissions office or online at:  http://mycampus.psm.edu/ICS/Future_Students/Programs.jnz

 Students accepted to the Ph.D. program will be considered for appointment in the RISE program. RISE admission decisions will be made after students have been officially accepted into the PhD program.   

Criteria for incoming PhD students:

 Undergraduate GPA and coursework, GRE score, research experience, post-bachelor’s coursework, presentations/publications, interview, and writing sample.

Criteria for current students in the PhD program:

 Graduate GPA, progress towards PhD (presentations/publications, fellowship applications, research proposal), and letters of recommendation.


To improve their performance, participation and success in the Ph.D./RISE Program, selected trainees receive the following benefits:

Financial support

Salary of $23,000 per year, paid tuition, and annual funds for lab supplies.

Networking opportunities

  • Paid travel to attend one domestic, scientific conference per year.
  • Participation in: biomedical seminars, lunch with the speaker, regional scientific conferences.


A structured mentoring team comprised of a faculty advisor, a research mentor and a student peer mentor to provide advice, support and guidance as needed.

 Professional development 

  • Continuous and enhanced “hands-on” professional and research training in multiple topics related to career development and technical skills.
  • Advanced instruction in communication and writing
  • Participation in annual Philosophy of Science retreat and other developmental workshops.

Trainee Requirements​

The following criteria are intended to serve as guiding principles to assist trainees and research mentors to support the goals of the NIGMS-RISE Program at PHSU in developing outstanding minority students with the knowledge and skills to successfully complete a Ph.D. degree and advance to competitive postdoctoral positions and meaningful career opportunities.

Trainees are evaluated each semester by the Internal Advisory Committee. Annual reappointments are contingent upon trainee’s successful compliance with the following requirements and criteria as well as their research progress and ability to meet the long-term goals of the NIGMS-RISE Program. Additionally, reappointments will depend on the number of spots available and the quality and quantity of available candidates. The RISE Program will typically support students accepted into the program for a maximum of 3 years and will rarely support students beyond their 4th year of the Ph.D. program (unless there are no other candidates that better meet RISE requirements and criteria at the time).

Program Criteria

Program Requirements

  • Comply with the aforementioned program criteria (milestones).
  • Active, full-time (defined by NIH as 40 hours/week) participation and commitment to the program, your studies and research. RISE, as with other fellowships, provides a full-time salary so you can devote time and effort to academics and research (i.e. classes and laboratory research).
  • Mandatory attendance to all RISE-programmed activities. Absences will require prior notification in writing and documented evidence, as applicable (i.e. doctor’s note, travel itinerary, etc.).
    • Two or more absences may constitute grounds for probation.
  • Meet with mentors (RISE advisor and peer) a minimum of 2x per semester. Meeting must be initiated by trainee, documented on form and submitted to coordinator.
  • Submit/update a portfolio each semester (end December, early June). Review with research mentor annually (early June).
  • Conduct a RISE journal club once a year.
  • Summarize a RISE activity (seminar, professional development session, meeting, etc.) for the newsletter.
  • Submit Individual Development Plan (IDP) and review/revise annually with research mentor.*

Trainee Expectations

  • To plan annual travel to national conferences at least two months in advance.
    • Travel must be approved by/discussed with research mentor beforehand.
    • The RISE program will not reimburse travel expenses beyond the allotted $2,000 per year per trip without prior approval. Any use of a personal credit card requires prior written authorization.
    • Travel allowances are non-transferable.
    • If requesting travel for external training/research experiences:
      • Must submit written request to Program Coordinator including rationale and course information (as advanced to pertinent deadlines as possible).
      • Research mentor must also submit written justification or recommendation of request.
      • Request must be evaluated and approved by the Internal Advisory Committee before travel is arranged.
    • To coordinate purchase of lab supplies at least one month in advance.
      • Lab supply funds must be used each semester ($1,200 per semester) or risk losing funds.
      • Their use should be approved by/discussed with research mentor.
    • To respond to program requests in a timely manner (including surveys, evaluations, emails, etc.).
    • To adhere to institutional policies and procedures as outlined in the PHSU student manual.
    • To communicate and/or meet with the Program Director, Associate Director and/or Program Coordinator as often as needed for guidance and input before problems occur.
    • To be available for and respond to follow-up/student tracking so we may adequately assess program outcomes and effectiveness in the short and long term.

Failure to comply with one or more program requirement or criteria may lead to probation, dismissal and/or non-continuance in the program, as well as ineligibility for potential future support.


Student Trainees


  • John Alvarado
  • Jetsimary García
  • Shirley Jusino
  • Roberto Morales
  • Miguel Oyola
  • Ronald Rodríguez
  • Lubriel Sambolín
  • Orlando Torres
  • Jessalyn Pla
  • Alexandra Aquino
  • Elliot Rodriguez
  • Jocelyn Rivera

Former Student Trainees

  • Neysha Martínez 
    • Raymond Isidro
    • Héctor Díaz
    • Samary Amaro
    • Omar Soler
    • Mariano Colón
    • Carmen Ortíz
    • Raisa Loucil
    • Marangelie Criado
    • Mariano Colón
    • Siomara Hernández
    • Abigail Ruiz Rivera
    • Bernadette Sosa
    • Christian Benitez
    • Elinette M. Albino-Rodríguez
    • Esther Jiménez Núñez
    • Fabián Vázquez Santiago
    • Felix L. Matos Ocasio
  • • Gladys S. Chompre
    • Jesus Hernandez Burgos
    • Julyann Perez Mayoral
    • Marian T. Sepulveda Orengo
    • Maricarmen Colon Diaz
    • Maricelly Santiago Ortiz
    • Perla Baez
    • Rosa Velez Cintron 
    • Yainyrette Rivera Rivera
    • Yisel A. Rivera Molina 
    • Emmanuel Cruz Torres
    •  Claudia Colón
    •  Inevy Seguinot
    •  Angel Núñez
    •  Diana Rodríguez
    •  Harry Negrón
    •  Rocío Lamboy
    •  Jaileene Pérez
    •  Elvin Estrada


To assist our RISE students to excel and progress efficiently through their coursework and degree requirements while publishing their research findings and enhancing their professional skills, we will assign each student a mentoring team consisting of student, faculty, and research mentors. 

RISE faculty and research mentors

  • Caroline Appleyard, Ph.D.
    • Julie Dutil, Ph.D.
    • Idhaliz Flores, Ph.D. 
    • Jaime Matta, Ph.D.  
    • Richard Noel, Ph.D. 
    • James Porter, Ph.D.  
    • Pedro Santiago, Ph.D. 
    • Vanessa Rivera-Amil, Ph.D.
    • Annelyn Torres
    • Guillermo Armaiz, Ph.D.
    • Marian Sepulveda

    Student Mentors

  • Carmen Ortiz
    • Siomara Hernández
    • Marangelie Criado
    • Neysha Martínez
    • Mariano Colón
    • Raymond Isidro
    • Omar Soler
    • Jaileene Perez
    • Angel Nuñez
    • Héctor Diaz

    Mentoring resources

  • NSF – Advisor, Teacher, Role Model, Friend: On Being a Mentor to Students in Science and Engineering • NEA – Minority Mentoring

Advisory Board

Internal Advisory Committee

  • Caroline Appleyard, Ph.D. Program Director
  • James Porter, Ph.D. Associate Program Director
  • Guillermo Armaiz, Ph.D. Assistant Professor
  • Harold Saavedra, Ph.D. Associate Professor
  • Vanessa Rivera, Ph.D. Associate Professor
  • Claudia Colon D. student

External Advisory Committee 2017

Dr. Andrew Tsin – University of Texas, Rio Grande Valley

Dr. Estela Estapé University of Puerto Rico – Medical Sciences Campus

Dr. Charles Irvin – University of Vermont





External Advisory Committee (2008-2017)

Francisco Gonzalez-Lima, Ph.D.        University of Texas at Austin
Adriana Baez, Ph.D.                             UPR – Medical Sciences Campus
William Reznikoff, Ph.D.                     Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, MA     

RISE Teaching Lab

The NIGMS- RISE Teaching Lab is available to all graduate students at PHSU.

The RISE Lab: Resources and Equipment for you!

Open to all graduate students at PHSU the NIGMS-RISE Teaching Lab offer: 

  • A full time laboratory technician for technical assistance and support in the operation of the equipment.
  • Training and assistance in basic laboratory techniques such as preparation of solutions, pipetting, lab management, etc. Training sessions in molecular techniques like cloning, Western Blot, PCR, qPCR, RT PCR, RNA, DNA and protein purification, plasmid preparation and transformation.
  • Equipment available upon request and reservation


Course Description

A Practical Approach to Molecular Biology (BSG 774) is a 2-credit elective course that will provide first-year graduate students with specific technical skills that (regardless of their final field of research) will benefit them throughout the duration of their graduate education. The course’s “hands-on” nature will promote good general laboratory skills from the outset, ensuring that those who attend will be better able to contribute and adapt to their current research laboratories. Among the skills students will learn are making clear written laboratory reports, reading and interpreting relevant scientific papers, and predicting experimental outcomes. Students will perform multiple techniques in a laboratory setting while gaining an understanding of the theories behind those techniques—including technical limitations. As a result, they will be better prepared to participate in and learn from the small group discussions in other courses and in the journal clubs within the rotation laboratory. These activities will augment their critical thinking and analysis skills as well as result in improved English writing and oral presentations; in addition, attendees will profit by improvements in their proposal writing skills, an increase in publications, and an enhancement of their overall competitiveness.

This new research course complements the existing Ph.D. curriculum and will further the goals of the RISE Program “to provide continuing new and enhanced professional development and career skills training for NIGMS-RISE trainees at PHSU in order to strengthen their future competitiveness”. As science moves towards an ever greater use of multidisciplinary research approaches, such cross-training provides essential skills for future scientists.                                                                                                                                                                         

Course Objectives

 Upon satisfactory completion of this course, the students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate fundamental safe laboratory practices
  • Relate the general knowledge of the techniques learned in the course to specific experimental studies
  • Handle and manipulate nucleic acids and proteins employing basic laboratory techniques
  • Use standard procedures to analyze nucleic acids and proteins
  • Set up laboratory equipment safely and efficiently
  • Plan and carry out experimental procedures and, when necessary, identify possible sources of error
  • Interpret data and report (both orally and in writing) the experimental data and results
  • Utilize their newly acquired foundational knowledge of general laboratory practices and molecular biology to develop and/or further their careers in biomedical research
  • Use and apply technical skills with a high level of competence, leading to long term success in their future careers in biomedical research
  • Communicate effectively with others
  • Recognize the value of commitment to professional responsibilities and research integrity
  • Work both independently and in a team with others

 Laboratory Equipment

  • Multiskan Go Plate Reader
  • Iblot
  • -80oC freezer
  • CO2 Incubator
  • Biosafety Cabinet
  • Dark Room Facility
  • Inverted Microscopes
  • Brightfield Microscope
  • PCR chamber, thermocycler
  • Electrophoresis (agarose and SDS-PAGE)
  • Thermomixer, water bath, stir plate
  • Balance, pH meter, pipettors and micropipettors, platform shaker
  • Hybridization oven, UV crosslinker, microwave
  • Refrigerated centrifuge, mini-centrifuge
  • Autoclave, refrigerator



  1. Abcam:
  1. Nature
  1. Promega:

Program Evaluator

Erika Gonzalez-Lima, Ph.D.         University of Texas

Program Coordinator
Jean Marie Schmidt


Contact Us

For program inquiries, please email  psmrise@psm.edu , or contact:

  • Caroline Appleyard

 RISE Program Director

 Email:  cappleyard@psm.edu

 Office: Research # 105

 Tel:  (787) 840-2575, ext.2165 (office) 2171/2168 (lab)

  • James Porter

 RISE Associate Program Director

 Email:  jporter@psm.edu

 Office: Research Building # 218

 Tel: (787) 840-2575 ext. 2251, (787) 844-3620

  • Jean Marie Schmidt

 Program Coordinator

 Email:  jschmidt@psm.edu

 Office: Research Building # 223

 Tel: (787) 284-2038

Mailing address

  • Ponce School of Medicine


 PO Box 7004

 Ponce, PR 00732