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NSF Funds Supporting Inclusive Excellence Program for $989,000

The National Science Foundation has awarded Ursinus College $989,000 for scholarships for high achieving students with significant financial need who are majoring in biology, biochemistry and molecular biology, and neuroscience.


The grant, “Supporting Inclusive Excellence (SIE) II” builds upon on an existing NSF-funded program that has supported 35 scholarship students over the past four years. The new funding will support scholarships for two cohorts of 10 incoming, first-year students, the first in fall 2021 and the second in fall 2022.

“We are thrilled to build on the success of our current SIE scholarship program with this award. We’ve seen firsthand the significant impact this type of support has on student recruitment, retention, and persistence in STEM,” says Carlita Favero, an associate professor of biology and neuroscience who is the principal investigator on the grant.

The scholarship students will participate in a new “Learning to Lead” course designed to help them develop skills required to become leaders in science by considering ethical issues. They will also have the opportunity to meet and be mentored by successful career scientists from diverse backgrounds. Through career workshops, the students will be introduced to various career paths, internship and research opportunities, and intensive advising.

The grant also funds programs that are available to all students enrolled in BIO 102 and BIO 201 to boost their success in these important courses for their majors.

Kate Goddard, an associate professor of biology, says the scholarship students also have an opportunity to participate in scientific research during their first year at Ursinus.

“In addition to helping to build a diverse and well-prepared science workforce, this project provides an opportunity to analyze the effectiveness of the proposed programs and share that information with other institutions so that they may institute similar programs,” Goddard says.

Additionally, Goddard and Favero point out the significance of the SIE II program being led by six Ursinus faculty—all women, and three of whom are women of color: Favero; Simara Price, an assistant professor, assistant dean of the college for academic transitions and co-director of the Parlee Center for Science and the Common Good; Jennifer King, an assistant professor of biology; Jennifer Round, an associate professor of biology and neuroscience; Rebecca Lyczak, chair and professor of biology; and Stephanie Weigel, assistant director of institutional research and effectiveness.

The first 10 SIE scholarship recipients under the original grant, which was awarded in 2015, graduated from Ursinus in May 2020, and each is in graduate school or is currently working in a scientific field and looking to pursue graduate study.