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NSF Funds STEM Scholarship at St. John Fisher College

November 9, 2018

The National Science Foundation awarded St. John Fisher College nearly $650,000 to launch a scholarship program for students who are interested in biology or chemistry and who have a demonstrated financial need. Fisher was one of nearly 80 institutions to receive the funding, selected from a national pool of more than 500 applicants.

Students work in a science lab.

The S-STEM Scholars Program is part of national effort to support high-achieving students from low income backgrounds as they pursue STEM fields. Students will enter the program as first-year students, and as a cohort, will engage in activities designed to help them succeed.

“This program provides a way for us to help remove obstacles that might prevent these students from persisting in STEM majors or careers,” said Dr. Kristin Picardo, associate professor of biology and director of the Center for Student Research and Creative Work, who is the principal investigator on the grant. Additional faculty and staff involved in the grant include Drs. Noveera Ahmed, Melissa Ghera, Andrea Giordano, and Michelle Erklenz-Watts. The grant was submitted in collaboration with the College’s Office of Sponsored Programs.

At Fisher, the S-STEM Scholarship program will create a distinctive model for student success by integrating mindfulness and mindset training, community engagement, research and academic support, mentorship, and career exploration through both cohort-based and individual activities. Scholars will also receive funding to participate in a summer research experience and attend a national conference to present their work.

“We’re very excited to weave in training that teaches our scholars how to develop contemplative practices that can release the mental anchors, including stress, that negatively impact learning,” Picardo said. “The program is also focused on building a community of internal and external support for our scholars.”

Another unique aspect of the program is the chance for students to conduct community-based research, working with one of six partner agencies to create and execute a project in the field. Picardo said this could mean exploring the health of the Genesee River in collaboration with the Genesee River Watch, studying wildlife conservation efforts or citizen science with the Seneca Park Zoo, or better understanding how to communicate science to audiences through a partnership with the Rochester Museum and Science Center.

S-STEM Scholars each receive a scholarship of $30,000 over four years ($6,000 in year one, $8,000 for years two through four). A total of 13 scholars will be chosen for enrollment in the program. To be eligible, students must meet several requirements and academic criteria.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No.1833904. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.