Marymount receives $1.46 million NSF grant to empower STEM students

Marymount receives $1.46 million NSF grant to empower STEM students


Amidst an ever-increasing need to meet the high-technology needs of today’s American workforce, faculty leaders at Marymount University are launching a new need-based scholarship program that will help students in STEM majors persist in their studies and pursue essential and fulfilling careers.

The STEM Citizen Science Scholars Program, which officially began this month, is designed for Marymount undergraduate students who are majoring in Biochemistry, Biology, Biomedical Engineering, Computer Science, Information Technology, Mathematics or Mechanical Engineering. Applicants must demonstrate financial need and academic potential in their chosen field, and are then eligible for scholarship awards of up to $10,000 per year over a four-year period based on financial need.

The program expects to support about 22 scholars, and is made possible through a National Science Foundation (NSF) S-STEM Track 2 award of $1.46 million.

“For the United States to remain not only a world economic leader but competitive on a global scale, our college graduates must be prepared for the demands of a highly-skilled, 21st century workforce,” explained Dr. Irma Becerra, President of Marymount University. “The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology has illustrated the need for about one million more STEM professionals than the U.S. is currently producing over the next decade if we are to retain our historical preeminence in science and technology. So establishing an initiative like the STEM Citizen Science Scholars Program is of the utmost importance not just for our students at Marymount but for the nation at large.”

Dr. Amanda Wright, Professor of Biochemistry at Marymount University, is serving as the principal investigator (PI) of the STEM Citizen Science Scholars Program, and is joined by four fellow Marymount faculty members who are co-PI’s – Dr. Susan Agolini, Associate Professor of Biology; Dr. Eric Bubar, Associate Professor of Engineering; Dr. Deana Jaber, Associate Professor of Chemistry; and Dr. Diane Murphy, Director of the School of Technology and Innovation. They will be collaborating with academic programs and offices across campus to support the program’s scholars while also striving to boost retention and graduation rate efforts. Additionally, they will be studying citizen science – or community-based scientific research – and its effects on students’ STEM skills.

“This NSF award is going to make a significant and positive difference on the lives of scholars in Marymount’s STEM Citizen Science Scholars Program,” Dr. Wright said. “With the right tools, they will learn how to think more creatively, critically analyze data and effectively work in a team – all important skills to have in the workforce of tomorrow. And at the conclusion of their academic journey, we aim to place 100 percent of our scholars in STEM jobs or graduate programs within just one year of graduation.”

Marymount students interesting in applying for the program can look forward to the following highlights:

  • Participating in innovative, fun activities that will strengthen their STEM skills and prepare them for a successful STEM career.
  • Serving their community while learning important STEM principles that they will carry with them throughout their career.
  • Learning about and employing citizen science to promote STEM in their local communities and engaging with STEM professionals across a range of fields.
  • Working with students from other disciplines to solve real-world scientific problems using a multidisciplinary approach.
  • Receiving one-on-one mentoring from STEM faculty and Marymount alumni working in their chosen field.

Additionally, the STEM Citizen Science Scholars Program will emphasize career preparation further through a series of hands-on “STEM tools of the trade” workshops designed just for scholars, who will also develop career plans, in consultation with their faculty advisor, to help prepare for a successful and sustainable STEM career. In the final year of the program, scholars and their colleagues will also plan and host a citizen science symposium for Marymount and local community members.