$3.4 million NSF grant will support students historically underrepresented in STEM

Posted on October 05, 2022

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a student works in a UNCG lab

The National Science Foundation awarded a $3.4 million grant across five North Carolina public universities for the prestigious Mountains to Sea North Carolina Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation program (LSAMP). UNCG – along with LSAMP partners Appalachian State University, East Carolina University, UNC-Wilmington, and Western Carolina University – will use the five-year grant to support students historically underrepresented in STEM programs. The LSAMP program has three major goals:

  • build a professional and disciplinary relationship among the alliance schools and learn best practices from each other;
  • provide targeted programming focused on student transition into college that includes leadership training, resources, and mentoring to first-generation college students; and
  • support summer research opportunities for students in the program.

At UNCG, the grant will fund 100 students over the course of four years starting in Fall 2023. Each LSAMP scholar will receive a $3,000 scholarship per year and $4,000 to conduct summer research at a faculty-mentored research lab.

“Across the universities, LSAMP enrolls a highly diverse student body,” explains Malcolm Schug, associate professor and department head of UNCG’s Biology Department. “Systemwide we’ve seen an increase in enrollment of underrepresented STEM students – African Americans, Hispanic Americans, American Indians, Alaska native, native Hawaiians, and native Pacific Islanders. Of the 80,000 undergraduate students, 17% are STEM majors, and 3.9% identify as underrepresented minorities.”

“Because many of these students are first generation, LSAMP has found that programming and small scholarships provide structure for the students that increases retention by as much as 40%. It also considerably increases the likelihood of on-time graduation,” Schug continues.

To date, the LSAMP has funded more than 650,000 bachelor’s degrees earned by minority students in STEM nationwide, including Jerome Adams, the 20th Surgeon General of the United States.

The UNCG LSAMP program will recruit and invite students to participate in the program starting Fall 2023. The majority of the first class of LSAMP Scholars will be freshmen.

All UNCG LSAMP scholars will participate in mentoring programming and become supplemental instructional leaders and mentors to incoming LSAMP scholars and others underrepresented minorities in STEM. There will be opportunities to exchange with scholars and faculty among the five schools as well as network, present work, and research at a yearly LSAMP conference.

This year is a planning year for the UNCG principles and committee which includes: UNCG’s Provost Debbie Storrs, the principal investigator on the NSF grant, Schug, Psychology Professor Julia Mendez Smith, mathematics and statistics professor Sat Gupta, Julie Voorhees from the Office of Sponsored Programs, and Associate Vice Provost of Student Affairs Andrew Hamilton.

“The scale of this grant is very large because it not only touches the students who are funded to participate, but those students will be well trained, highly coordinated students who will deliver tutoring and other kinds of direct academic support services to their peers,” Hamilton says. “So, literally hundreds of students at a time will be participating in the program, whether they know it or not.”

“UNCG is among the most diverse universities in the system. Lifting up these scholars and helping them be successful, positioning them as leaders will have a ripple effect through the entire university,” Schug agrees.

To learn more about the LSAMP Scholars program, contact Malcolm Schug.

Story by Alice Manning Touchette

Photography by Martin W. Kane


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