October 4, 2016

Georgia Gwinnett College has been awarded $1.6 million by the National Science Foundation to continue and replicate a program that’s been shown to boost student interest in the sought-after STEM fields. One of the college’s largest grants to date, it is being funded as part of a National Science Foundation (NSF) initiative to improve undergraduate STEM education. The grant will be spread over four years.

GGC’s grant, “An Institutional Model for Increasing Student Engagement through Course-embedded Undergraduate Research Experiences,” includes faculty members from across GGC, including faculty from all disciplines within SST, faculty from the college’s School of Liberal Arts and staff of the Center for Teaching Excellence. In addition to Principal Investigator, Dr. Judy Awong-Taylor, the project team includes Dr. Clay Runck, assistant professor of biology; Dr. Tirza Leader, assistant professor of psychology; Dr. Allison D’Costa, associate professor of biology, and Dr. David P. Pursell, professor of chemistry.

According to Awong-Taylor, the NSF grant will allow GGC to continue offering these course-embedded undergraduate research experiences. A new component to this NSF grant is to collaborate with faculty from other colleges and universities to recreate the pilot on their campuses and raise the retention rates of their STEM majors, including those in underrepresented groups, such as women and minorities. Another objective will be to reduce the dropout rate for GGC STEM students in the “gateway” courses that introduce them to their majors.

Numerous studies show that students who conduct research as undergraduates have greater success with their studies. That’s relevant to the worldwide demand for STEM skills and data from the National Academy of Science showing 25 countries rank higher than the United States in the percentage of undergraduate degrees in science and engineering.