NSF grants UMW $1 million for STEM program

by | May 4, 2017 | Schools & Education

Photo: Nicole Crowder (left) works with a student. (Photo by Norm Shafer / University of Mary Washington)

From University of Mary Washington

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded the University of Mary Washington a nearly million dollar grant to recruit, financially support and train 20 academically talented and diverse, low-income students who major in the sciences.

The five-year grant, totaling $996,216, will fund a new Jepson Scholars Program that provides four-year scholarships averaging $7,500 annually to two groups of 10 students beginning with the 2018-2019 academic year. The selected scholars will major in one of the disciplines located in the Jepson Science Center: biology, chemistry, physics, geology or environmental science. The program will be co-directed by Dianne Baker, associate professor of biology, and Nicole Crowder, associate professor of chemistry.

“We are thrilled to have this opportunity to combine significant financial assistance with high-impact undergraduate STEM training and experience,” said Crowder. “We anticipate that the project will not only greatly impact the selected Jepson Scholars but will benefit a large number of STEM students. The project also may be used as a model for STEM education at similar undergraduate-centered universities.”

The scholars will participate in a five-week, faculty-mentored summer research experience prior to their freshman year. They also will be immersed in integrated STEM-related first-year seminars and peer-assisted study sessions. In addition, the students will participate in rigorous, faculty-directed research through an expanded UMW Summer Science Institute and will receive intensive preparation for STEM-based career and graduate school opportunities.

The Jepson Science Center was named in 1998 to honor the generosity of Robert S. Jr. and Alice Andrews Jepson ’64. The new Jepson Scholars Program, created from the NSF grant, is a multidisciplinary initiative that will be supported by the offices of Academic Services, Admissions, Financial Aid, Institutional Effectiveness, and the Center for Professional and Career Development. Other key faculty participants include Charles Whipkey, associate professor of earth and environmental science; Mary Kayler, director of the center for teaching excellence and innovation; April Wynn, assistant professor of biology; and Hai Nguyen, associate professor and chair of physics.

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