EMU to Benefit from Science Foundation Grant

Four area colleges, including EMU, have received a partnership grant of nearly $1.5 million from the National Science Foundation to help boost enrollment among science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) majors.

The NSF money will be used to run a summer “get ahead” type program for students who are interested in STEM majors and who need some extra preparation to do college-level work.

Dr. Roman Miller of EMU and student Samfee Doe
Dr. Roman Miller advises Samfee K. Doe, a sophomore biology/psychology major from Monrovia, Liberia, in examining the basic structure of an immature lamprey in Dr. Miller’s animal form and function class. (Photo by Jim Bishop)

“It’s a way for students to really build some momentum at the outset and be ready to succeed on Day 1,” said Bob Kolvoord, professor of integrated science and technology at James Madison University, the project director. Dr. Kolvoord worked with representatives of Blue Ridge Community College, Bridgewater College, EMU and SRI International, to secure the $1,476,668 grant.

SRI, Inc., based in Menlo Park, Calif., is an independent, nonprofit research institute conducting client-sponsored research and development for government agencies, commercial businesses, foundations, and other organizations.

The project will work with rising freshmen who have been accepted by one of the four schools. More than 50 students will take part in different aspects of the project each year. Students and faculty from all four institutions will work together during the summer program and learning communities will be established to build relationships and support that continue through the academic year. The project will also help place students in summer internships to let them experience science and technology in the workplace.

SRI, Inc. will handle project evaluation and will continue to build on its research on workforce development. SRI is planning a permanent facility in a new building to be constructed in the Rockingham County Research and Technology Park in Harrisonburg, in proximity to EMU.

In three years the program will be eligible for another $1 million, which will enable it to run for two additional years. The goal of the program is to generate an additional 200 STEM degrees at the four institutions in the next five years.

“EMU is pleased to be a part of this grant which is designed to enhance student recruitment and enrollment in the sciences,” said Roman J. Miller, Daniel B. Suter endowed professor of biology at EMU. “We anticipate that the resulting programs made possible by grant monies will affect an increase in the number of biology, chemistry, and mathematics majors at EMU,” he added.