Coe awarded $650,000 NSF grant to provide STEM scholarships for low-income, academically talented students

Extra: Rod Pritchard, Secretary of the College
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2018-01-04 15:05:28 - General

Coe College has received a $650,000 award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) through its S-STEM Program to provide scholarships for low-income, academically talented students to study in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). Coe has a long tradition of NSF support, and this NSF award will enhance opportunities for qualifying students to pursue STEM fields.

The awarded proposal was entitled "The STEMPath Approach: Success for Low Income Students," with funding through Nov. 30, 2022. Specifically, the STEMPath Program will provide scholarships for 14 low-income, academically talented first-year students who enroll at Coe in the fall of 2018. Under the program, these qualifying students will receive a $6,500 grant for each of their first two years of study, and an $8,000 award for each of their final two years of college, making each scholarship worth $29,000 per student over four years.

To complement the scholarships, the NSF funding will provide professional instruction for students from biology, chemistry, mathematics and physics specialists, more support for the pre-orientation Bridge Program, additional tutoring and supplemental instruction, and the creation of a special living and learning community in campus housing especially for the cohort. In addition, the grant will facilitate faculty and alumni mentorships, increase academic coaching and accessibility support, and fund a full summer of paid research for the students in the program.

During their three summers as college students, participants in the Coe STEMPath Program will continue to build on their educational experiences with research shadowing, research, internship opportunities and development workshops. The ultimate goal of the STEMPath Program is to improve first-year success, enhance overall academic performance, and encourage persistence of study in STEM fields to graduation.

"We are delighted to receive this award as it both recognizes Coe's historic leadership in supporting students interested in the STEM fields and our heartfelt commitment to keeping a high quality liberal arts education accessible for all academically talented young people, whatever their socio-economic status," said Provost and Dean of the Faculty Paula O'Loughlin.

The Coe STEMPath Program is under the direction of professors Randy Christiansen (biology), Gina Hausknecht (English and associate dean for student academics), Mario Affatigato (physics), Rick Eichhorn (economics) and Marty St. Clair (chemistry), as well as Lois Kabela-Coates (director of the Academic Achievement Program). In addition, other Coe faculty and staff representing STEM academic disciplines and other departments will provide essential support during the course of the program. 

Coe receives $1.3 million in NSF funding in the past month

Since 1986, Coe has received nearly $10 million in funding from the NSF to support scientific research and equipment, as well as the renovation of Peterson Hall of Science. Typically, less than 20 percent of NSF grant applications receive funding, demonstrating the highly competitive nature of the process.

With the latest grant, Coe has been awarded nearly $1.3 million in NSF funding in the past month. In December, Coe received a $636,000 award from the NSF to be used for student-faculty research on the science of glass over the next four years. The proposal that received the award was entitled "RUI: Structure and Properties of New, Practical Glasses." Under the direction of physics professors Steve Feller, Mario Affatigato and Ugur Akgun, the grant will be used to fund continued glass research at Coe from May 2018 through April 2022.

Coe is currently one of only a handful of small colleges in the U.S. to host a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) site, also supported by the NSF, which provides opportunities for students from Coe and other colleges across the country to conduct research in chemistry and physics. The $279,000 grant for the REU site was renewed early in 2017 by Professor Affatigato.

Coe College offers superb academics and exciting co-curricular activities in a thriving urban setting that promotes student growth and success. Established in 1851, Coe has a national reputation for academic excellence enhanced by a student-centered, highly supportive campus environment. Coe's vibrant Cedar Rapids location provides an abundance of internships for students and career opportunities for graduates.