College obtains science grant
Bridget Feeney | Friday, September 21, 2012
Over a dozen science, engineering and math students from Saint Mary’s will receive additional financial and academic support as the result of a grant recently awarded to the College.
Chemistry professor Toni Barstis and math professor Joanne Snow served as co-principal investigators of the grant, awarded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Biology professor Ryan Dombkowski is the faculty principal investigator of the grant and also served as co-author.
The grant will begin distribution to eligible students starting in the 2013-14 school year. The grant awards $600,000 to Saint Mary’s to sponsor the advancement of women in engineering, math and science. The grant is through the NSF PRISM Women Scholars Program and provides scholarships for up to 20 students. The grant will provide roughly $26,500 of support to each student. Distribution of funds is spread throughout their sophomore, junior and senior years.
“[The scholarships] are wonderful opportunities for Saint Mary’s to provide financial and developmental support to women interested in ‘STEM’ [Science, Technology, Engineering and Math] field,” Dombkowski said.
The school will award the scholarships to students based on their high school and first semester grades, along with recommendations from first-year professors and advisors. In addition to academia and references, Dombkowski said scholarship recipients must demonstrate an “exceptional motivation and enthusiasm for STEM disciplines.”
“In the end, we want to see our students go off into successful and exciting careers in STEM fields and this scholarship program should provide us with support to do that at a higher level,” Dombkowski said.
Once a student is given a scholarship, she will have to complete a list of requirements as part of her award, Drombkowski said. The student will have to participate in some community outreach, such as math or science tutoring at local schools, partake in some on-campus educational events and various field trips to pharmaceutical companies, research labs and other STEM places, he said. The scholarship recipient will also have to apply for summer research opportunities and as seniors, will attend a national conference where they will present their research from the summer or their senior comps, Drombkowski said.
Dombkowski said being awarded the grant is an accomplishment itself because of the number of applications the NSF receives every year.
“I want to say that the NSF is only funding about 6 to 8 percent of their current grant applications, which means Saint Mary’s has been awarded this opportunity amongst a lot of competition,” he said. “We are certainly honored to be recognized by the NSF and excited to get started.”
Dombkowksi said the College science and math departments have high hopes for the grant and are eager to see the impact of it on students, school and community.
“I think that I can speak for my other [co-principle investigators] when I say that we hope the grant will help us to advertise the wonderful work Saint Mary’s women all already doing in STEM fields; to promote STEM careers and research for Saint Mary’s students; to attract, interest and retain the best and brightest students towards the STEM disciplines and to financially support exceptionally motivated STEM students throughout their studies,” he said.
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