BOONE, N.C. — Appalachian State University is one of five University of North Carolina System institutions awarded $3.4 million in grant funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support the recruitment and success of underrepresented students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.
App State, East Carolina University, the University of North Carolina Wilmington, Western Carolina University and UNC Greensboro (UNCG) will use the five-year grant to establish a Mountains to Sea North Carolina Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (M2S-NCLSAMP) program at their respective institutions. UNCG serves as the lead institution on the grant.
“This grant will allow the five UNC System schools to collaborate on our shared mission to expand access to affordable, high-quality degrees for all students,” said App State Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Heather Hulburt Norris, who is the principal investigator on the more than $415,000 grant that App State received as part of the project.
Norris continued, “It also will advance App State’s foundational commitment to promote diversity and inclusion on our campus while enabling students to develop meaningful relationships with faculty members through structured research projects — an enrichment activity that contributes significantly to students’ academic success.”
The three primary goals of the program:
- Provide targeted programming focused on first-generation college students’ transition into college. This programming includes leadership training, resources and mentorship.
- Support summer research opportunities for LSAMP Scholars.
- Facilitate community building among the program faculty and students at the five participating schools, so that they may share best practices with one another.
App State’s program will support 100 students over the course of the grant’s five-year period, beginning in spring 2023. Each participating scholar will receive a $2,000 scholarship per year, as well as $3,000 to conduct summer research under the direction of a faculty mentor. The majority of the first class of program scholars will be first-year students.
The program is expected to help increase the number of underrepresented students studying STEM disciplines at App State, according to Program Director Dr. Rahman Tashakkori — preparing these students for employment in STEM occupations, which are projected to increase by 10.8% over the next decade.
“Being a campus that supports the Mountains to Sea North Carolina Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation program is a great accomplishment for App State,” said Tashakkori. “The program will provide underrepresented students in STEM with opportunities to build a strong community and will engage them in enrichment activities to help them succeed.”
Named in honor of former congressman Louis Stokes, the NSF-funded Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation program provides academic support and specialized advising for students from historically underrepresented groups who wish to enter nonmedical STEM professions. The program has been implemented at several colleges and universities across the nation and is widely known for elevating the likelihood of success among its scholars, many of whom are first-generation college students.
Community building, mentorship and research
Of the approximately 80,000 undergraduate students enrolled at the program’s five participating universities, 17% are declared STEM majors, and 3.9% of those students — or about 530 — are underrepresented students pursuing STEM majors.
All program scholars at App State will participate in weekly mentoring activities that include a two-hour study hall, a two-hour block of faculty-led research and a one-hour STEM seminar. Through the program activities, students will grow to become peer mentors.
Additionally, scholars will have opportunities to exchange ideas and experiences with other scholars and faculty across the five schools — through networking and presenting their research and creative endeavors at a yearly conference for the program.
“Thanks to Provost Norris and College of Arts and Sciences Interim Dean Mike Madritch, the program has strong support at App State, which will be the key to its success over many years to come,” Tashakkori shared.
According to Tashakkori, App State’s Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation program will build on the success of the university’s existing Appalachian High Achievers in STEM program, which is funded by NSF through the end of this year.
The following App State faculty will serve as co-directors of the university's Mountains to Sea North Carolina Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation program and will mentor program scholars:
- Dr. Maryam Ahmed, professor in the Department of Biology.
- Dr. Vicky Klima, professor in the Department of Mathematical Sciences and an Honors College academic mentor and faculty member.
- Dr. Folarin Oguntoyinbo, associate professor and research mentor in the Department of Chemistry and Fermentation Sciences.
To learn more about the Mountains to Sea North Carolina Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation program at App State, contact Tashakkori at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit cs.appstate.edu/lsamp.
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About the Division of Academic Affairs
The Division of Academic Affairs is responsible for student learning and success at Appalachian State University, including oversight of the university’s challenging academic curriculum, active classroom environments, and close collaboration between faculty members and students on scholarly activities. Academic Affairs encompasses the degree-granting College of Arts and Sciences, College of Fine and Applied Arts, Beaver College of Health Sciences, Reich College of Education, Walker College of Business and Hayes School of Music; as well as the Cratis D. Williams Graduate School, the Honors College, University College and 12 other units that support the innovative, interdisciplinary and integrative academic experience for which Appalachian is known. Learn more at http://academicaffairs.appstate.edu.
About the College of Arts and Sciences
The College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) at Appalachian State University is home to 17 academic departments, two centers and one residential college. These units span the humanities and the social, mathematical and natural sciences. CAS aims to develop a distinctive identity built upon our university's strengths, traditions and unique location. The college’s values lie not only in service to the university and local community, but through inspiring, training, educating and sustaining the development of its students as global citizens. More than 6,400 student majors are enrolled in the college. As the college is also largely responsible for implementing App State’s general education curriculum, it is heavily involved in the education of all students at the university, including those pursuing majors in other colleges. Learn more at https://cas.appstate.edu.
About Appalachian State University
As a premier public institution, Appalachian State University prepares students to lead purposeful lives. App State is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System, with a national reputation for innovative teaching and opening access to a high-quality, affordable education for all. The university enrolls more than 21,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and 80 graduate majors at its Boone and Hickory campuses and through App State Online. Learn more at https://www.appstate.edu.