National Science Foundation Awards $2.75 Million in Stem Grants to Elmhurst College

The National Science Foundation has awarded Elmhurst College $2.75 million in grants to launch two innovative projects that will help students majoring in STEM fields to succeed.

The projects are part of a focused effort by the College to meet the need for more — and more diverse — scientists, technology specialists, engineers and mathematicians.

Each project is funded over five years and will provide summer research opportunities, enrichment programming, scholarships and other ways to support STEM students from groups at higher risk of leaving their major, or even leaving college altogether.

One project, which received a $1.75 million grant, establishes an alliance of Chicago-area higher-education institutions that will support STEM majors from populations historically underrepresented in the sciences. The alliance includes seven four-year institutions (Elmhurst College, Benedictine University, Concordia University Chicago, Dominican University, Lewis University, North Central College and Saint Xavier University) and one community college (College of DuPage).

Elmhurst is the lead institution on the project, with President Troy VanAken serving as the principal investigator and Assistant Professor of Biology Eve Mellgren serving as project director and co-principal investigator.

“The members of this alliance all share the desire to increase success among underrepresented students studying in STEM areas,” VanAken said. “Elmhurst College is honored to be the lead institution and awardee of this grant.”

The other project, awarded a $1 million grant, is aimed at transfer students attending Elmhurst. It establishes a scholarship program for high-achieving, low-income STEM students, complemented by an August class on the scientific method, a “science boot camp” and other activities to help transfer students feel a greater sense of belonging and preparedness. The principal investigators include Professor of Biology Merrilee Guenther, Professor of Biology Stacey Raimondi and Assistant Professor of Psychology Elizabeth Majka.

Both projects are designed to help meet the need for STEM graduates in the Chicago metropolitan region. The projects also build on Elmhurst’s commitment to supporting first-generation college students and students from traditionally underrepresented groups.

“These STEM grants help us to carry out our mission of changing lives through education while powerfully demonstrating our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion,” VanAken said.

“I am very grateful to the faculty members who recognized the need, seized these opportunities and worked so hard to make these programs a reality,” he said. “I look forward to seeing the impact these initiatives will have on the lives of our students over the next five years and beyond.”

Source: Elmhurst College

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