LYNCHBURG—A $600,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF)’s Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (S-STEM) program will allow Randolph College to make college more accessible for physical science and math majors. The grant, announced on campus Tuesday at Convocation, will provide $599,247 over a five-year period, with the majority of the funding going to scholarships.
Only 90 of the 407 proposals submitted to the NSF received funding from the highly competitive program.
“This grant is a great achievement and is the product of much effort and perseverance,” said John E. Klein, president of Randolph College. “It is the largest grant award to the College of which we have knowledge. It is student-oriented and will support our STEM initiatives. We are grateful to Professors Peter Sheldon, Tatiana Gilstrap, and Yesem Kurt-Peker for the hard work they invested in this proposal.”
The grant proposal, “Step-Up to Physical Science and Engineering at Randolph College (SUPER),” will build on Randolph’s SUPER College Transition Program, a two-week, intensive, three-credit course that begins before first-years arrive on campus. Starting next year, more than half of the participants in the SUPER program will receive four-year scholarships to Randolph College worth up to $6,000 to Randolph College. The scholarship recipients must participate in SUPER and major in chemistry, engineering, environmental science, mathematics, or physics. The NSF-funded scholarships will be in addition to the students’ other financial aid packages.
“We are working to increase interest in the fields of physical science and mathematics,” said Sheldon, principal investigator for the grant, physics professor, and director of Randolph’s Center for Student Research. “Thanks to the NSF’s support, we will be able to make even greater strides in our efforts to encourage students to pursue the physical sciences and mathematics at Randolph College. These students are the future of these fields, and we need to do everything we can to make a high quality education possible for them.”
The grant will also provide two years of support for the College’s SUPER College transition program as well as fund mentoring, career guidance, and recruitment activities.
“This grant will directly benefit the students who receive scholarships, but it also will positively impact all of the students who participate in our SUPER program and our STEM courses,” said Carl Girelli, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the College. “The more opportunities we can give our students, the more prepared they will be when they enter the fields of physical science and math.”
Sheldon serves as the principal investigator of the NSF grant proposal. Co-principal investigators are Tatiana Gilstrap, an environmental science professor, and Yesem Kurt-Peker, a mathematics professor. Other major contributors to the grant proposal include Jeannie Plybon, grants coordinator, and Kim Sheldon, director of student success.