Ashland University Receives $650,000 National Science Foundation Grant for Scholarships

Ashland University Receives $650,000 National Science Foundation Grant for Scholarships

1/9/17 ASHLAND, Ohio – The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded Ashland University a $650,000 grant as part of a five-year STEM scholarship program that will provide scholarships and academic support for academically talented science students with financial need.

The NSF grant, titled “Science Scholars Program: Opening the Science Career Pipeline Through Enhanced Engagement and Support,” begins Jan. 15 and runs through Dec. 31, 2021, and provides funds to create a “Science Scholars Program” allowing students pursing undergraduate degrees in a natural science discipline to receive scholarship and academic support designed to engage, retain and graduate these academically talented students.

“This grant will allow us to provide renewable scholarships to outstanding incoming students with financial need who want to major in biology, biochemistry, chemistry, environmental science, geology, physics or toxicology,” said AU Provost Dr. Eun-Woo Chang. “In addition to the scholarships, the program provides support to help these scholars be successful science majors through enhanced career preparation programming; a tiered system of mentoring that includes faculty, peer and alumni mentors; and the creation of a learning community of scholars that will feature success seminars, workshops and lectures.”

Chang said the goal is that these scholarships and support for lower-income and academically talented students, who may not otherwise be able to obtain STEM degrees, will produce a well-trained workforce that will contribute to the economic well-being of the nation.

The principal investigator on the grant project is Dr. Perry Corbin, professor of chemistry at AU, while co-principal investigators include Dr. Patricia Saunders, associate professor of biology; Dr. Paul Hyman, associate professor of biology; Dr. Christopher Chartier, assistant professor of psychology; and Dr. Dawn Weber, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Rodney Michael, associate professor of physics, and Dr. Jeff Weidenhamer, trustee’s distinguished professor of chemistry, also will serve as senior personnel on the project.

“Project team members are very excited to receive this competitive award. As science faculty members at AU, we take immense pride in our programs and the personal attention and preparation that we provide our students. We all take the motto of the University, “Accent on the Individual” very seriously,” Corbin said. “Funds from this grant will allow us to expand our outreach and meet the needs of even more students. In addition to providing scholarship funds for students with financial need and funds for student recruitment and project activities, an accompanying research study and evaluation will also allow us to gain and share knowledge outside of AU concerning the best methods for improving retention of students in STEM majors and preparing students for future careers in science.”

Corbin said the program is designed to provide renewable scholarships ranging from $4,000 to $10,000 annually.

“Incoming first-year students who have been accepted to AU, are declaring a major in the natural sciences and plan to pursue a career in science are encouraged to apply to join the first Science Scholars Program cohort in fall of 2017,” he said. ​"Students who have not yet applied to AU are also highly encouraged to apply to the University and the Scholars Program."

Once accepted to the program, scholars may renew their scholarships for up to four years if they continue to have demonstrated financial need, maintain a natural science major and meet all program requirements.

Corbin said the comprehensive recruiting and support program is based on the analysis of local needs and issues found to influence student retention and will involve collaboration between science faculty and offices across campus, including the AU Career Services Center and Center for Academic Support. In addition to supporting student success, Corbin said the project will contribute to the understanding of issues affecting student retention and success.

“A research and evaluation project led and developed by Dr. Chartier will study how students' self-efficacy evolves over time through participation in the intended support activities. Student interactions over multiple years of mentoring will help the project team to discern which specific activities or points in time are most impactful in terms of student self-efficacy and their STEM attitude,” he said. “This longitudinal study will track changes over time of STEM retention predictors such as scientific self-efficacy and STEM relevant attitudes.”

Those wanting more information about the Science Scholars Program or wanting to start the application process can visit the program website at www.ashland.edu/sciencescholarship or contact Dr. Perry Corbin at 419.289.5269/pcorbin@ashland.edu or the AU admissions office at 419.289.5052/ enrollme@ashland.edu.

Ashland University, ranked in the top tier of colleges and universities in U.S. News and World Report’s National Universities category for 2017, is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University (www.ashland.edu) deeply values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students.                                                                                ###

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