IWU receives National Science Foundation (NSF) Grant for S-STEM Student Scholarships

MARION – The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded Indiana Wesleyan University a $1.3 million S-STEM grant, NSF Proposal 2130078: “Connecting Science Identity to STEM Success at a Rural Primarily Undergraduate Institution Propelled by an Evidence-Based First Year Experience”. 

This is the largest NSF grant in IWU’s history and will contribute to the national need for well-educated scientists by supporting the retention and graduation of high-achieving, low-income students with demonstrated financial need at Indiana Wesleyan University.

A team of IWU Faculty – led by Associate Professor of Chemistry Dr. Stephen Leonard, Assistant Professor of Chemistry Dr. Joshua Ostrander, Professor of Biology Dr. Matt Kreitzer, and Associate Professor of Biology Dr. Jolie Leonard – submitted the proposal. The grant will provide scholarships of up to $40,000 over four years to 24 academically talented STEM undergraduate students. Students selected for the scholarship can receive up to $10,000 per year for four years. Students must major in biology, biochemistry, chemistry, or physics; have an interest in studying non-clinical fields in science; and demonstrate financial need as determined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).   

Students will be intentionally supported in a cohort model with STEM-oriented best practices to increase first-year student retention and degree completion.  A distinctive of the program is a two-semester first-year course aimed toward intentionally developing science identity in students while reducing barriers in challenging first-year science courses. Students will also be given opportunities to engage in an undergraduate research experience.  Collectively, these program efforts will increase the number of low-income, academically talented students with demonstrated financial need earning degrees in STEM fields and improve the education of future STEM workers.

“Gateway courses during the first year of a science major are often barriers to the successful completion of a STEM degree,” said Ostrander. “This NSF award will help us leverage existing student support mechanisms at IWU to help address the ‘leaky pipeline’ of STEM majors common to many institutions.”

The NSF grant also provides significant opportunities for career development and undergraduate scientific research within the cohort program.  “These scholars will experience the reality of being a science student pursuing a science career,” commented Kreitzer. “They will also be a part of a unique first-year course designed to increase student success in STEM. We encourage all interested students, and especially 21st-century scholars, to apply immediately to be considered for one of these limited scholarships.”

For more information about the S-STEM scholarship program, or to apply, visit www.indwes.edu/stem.