Stemming from Science: CSUSM Awarded $1.95 Million Grant from NSF
The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded CSUSM, in partnership with Palomar Community College, a $1.95 million grant to develop a five-year program aimed at increasing the number of undergraduates, transfer students and graduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. The project will streamline services to better facilitate preparation and transfer of students between the community college and the state university.“This project builds on our existing programs to provide students with exemplary curricula and academic support,” said Charles De Leone, chair of the physics department at CSUSM and the principle investigator for the grant project. “STEM-specific recruiting efforts and transfer agreements between Palomar College and the University will provide a seamless path for students obtaining a STEM degree. Ultimately, these graduates will supply our local employers and graduate schools with diverse, well-trained researchers, technicians and scientists.”Competition for this year’s granting cycle from the NSF, which is the source for nearly 20 percent of all federally supported research conducted by colleges and universities nationwide, was intense. CSUSM’s project - titled Increasing STEM Talent Through Regional Partnerships, Recruiting and Retention – was among only eight percent of the proposals that received grant funding.“Our funding is a further endorsement of the growing importance of STEM disciplines at CSUSM, as well as the value and need our regional employers have for our STEM graduates,” explained Physics Professor Ed Price, who is a co-principle investigator for the five-year program.Leading the project along with De Leone and Price is Biological Sciences Professor Victor Rocha and Daniel Sourbeer, dean of mathematics and the natural and health sciences at Palomar Community College. CSUSM’s Dr. Dick Bray and Palomar College’s Dr. Candi Francis, both recently retired, also made significant contributions to the proposal.The primary objectives of the grant will focus on increasing the recruitment and retention of STEM students at both Palomar College and Cal State San Marcos. Through enhanced partnerships between the institutions, the grant will streamline efforts to attract students, with special emphasis on recruiting active duty military personnel and veterans, into STEM disciplines. Implementation of articulation agreements for transfer students, curricular support and tutoring services in STEM gateway courses will also aid in the collaborative effort. The grant will also oversee the development of a new STEM Center on the University campus to further increase academic support services and student engagement opportunities within STEM. Currently, CSUSM offers 11 STEM-focused baccalaureate programs including degrees in biochemistry, nursing, computer science and applied physics, as well as four Masters in Science degrees.“Being selected to be among the elite campuses chosen by the National Science Foundation validates the quality and importance of this initiative, and the future impacts it will have on our campuses and within our region,” said De Leone.