Colby-Sawyer College Awarded NSF Grant to Support Student Success in Biology

NEW LONDON, N.H. – Colby-Sawyer College is the recipient of a National Science Foundation grant of $648,000 that will focus on Pell-eligible students and prepare them for post-graduate success in STEM careers and graduate school.

“This is a highly competitive grant process and the college is very fortunate to be selected,” President Susan D. Stuebner said. “The importance of supporting students in STEM fields is critical and the grant will have an impact not only on these students’ learning but also on filling future job needs.”

Through the five-year grant, Colby-Sawyer will launch the Engage, Mentor, Retain and Graduate (EMERGE) Scholars Program to identify and recruit cohorts of academically talented students who will major in the STEM discipline of biology. EMERGE Scholars will be eligible for scholarships in their first and second years that increase in their junior and senior years.

The grant will also aid in establishing best practices for retention of STEM students through the critical first two academic years, monitor post-graduate employment and graduate school acceptance, and establish an evidence-based model for building institutional capacity in STEM instruction.

“We have seen an increase in the number of our graduates going directly into graduate programs in STEM fields and professional skill programs,” Academic Vice President and Dean of Faculty Laura A. Sykes, Ph.D., said. “Our strong science curriculum provides opportunities for students to work with faculty on research projects, and we incorporate research into the science curriculum throughout students’ experiences. The opportunity to target academically talented students who might not otherwise have the chance to realize their potential is exciting.”

Professor of Natural and Environmental Sciences Peter White, project director, is joined by Assistant Professor of Natural and Environmental Sciences Andrew D. Cahoon, Professor of Social Sciences and Education Lynn J. Garrioch and Professor of Natural and Environmental Sciences Semra Kilic-Bahi in leading the project.

“We are very excited for the opportunity to provide social, academic and financial support to talented students during their time at Colby-Sawyer, and to provide greater opportunity for their success in STEM fields beyond graduation,” said Professor White.

While New Hampshire ranks last in the nation for the number of bachelor degrees awarded in the STEM disciplines, a 2013 report on Labor Demand-Supply Analysis published under the direction of then Governor Maggie Hassan indicates that between 2010 and 2020, STEM occupations in the state are expected to grow at 17.3 percent compared with overall state job growth of 10.4 percent. By 2020, STEM occupations will account for 14 percent of employment statewide, with nearly half of those positions requiring a bachelor’s degree. STEM employers especially seek reading comprehension, active listening, critical thinking, and active learning in entry-level members to their workforce, all hallmarks of Colby-Sawyer’s liberal arts-based education.

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