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Simons STEM Scholars Program Welcomes Second Cohort

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The second cohort of Stony Brook Simons STEM Scholars includes 50 students from six states. Photo by Emily Tan for Simons Foundation.

Stony Brook University’s Simons STEM Scholars Program celebrated the signing of its second cohort of students on May 11 at the Simons Foundation’s Flatiron Institute in New York City.

The incoming class of 50 scholars was selected from a pool of 1,000 applicants. With an average SAT score of 1410 and an average grade point average of 95, the scores of the scholars represent the top five percent of high school students. Scholars hail from six states (New York, Connecticut, Arizona, Illinois, Maryland and Florida), majoring in the life sciences (20%), engineering (50%) and math, physics and applied sciences (36%).

Eighty percent of the incoming class has participated in research-based activity while in high school at locations such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), Brookhaven National Laboratory, Harvard, Carnegie Mellon and Johns Hopkins.

The students follow the first cohort (S1) of 29 scholars, who completed their successful first year. Many of the S1 scholars will spend their summer participating in research, a priority for the program, which provides stipends for internship and research opportunities. This enables students to pursue extracurricular learning experiences to supplement their STEM coursework and bolster their graduate school applications.

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Photo by Emily Tan for Simons Foundation.

“Almost 70 percent of the S1 group were accepted into summer research outside of the institution at schools such as Yale, Texas A&M, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Missouri, which we’re thrilled to see,” said Executive Director Erwin Cabrera. “They are all strong, and it’s amazing to see their efforts paying off when they compete nationally for these experiences.” 

The incoming scholars will move onto campus in June for a six-week Summer Bridge Program dedicated to preparing them to become a science scholar, a Stony Brook student and a part of the Simons STEM Scholars team.

“A big part of this program is helping the students to take care of each other, and that’s what we saw with the first cohort, and part of why they have been so successful,” said Cabrera. “They are forming study groups together, working together on clubs and to do things like building a Simons STEM Scholars boat for the Roth Pond Regatta, and they are lifting each other up. They know that they are not alone.” 

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Photo by Emily Tan for Simons Foundation.

“This incoming class is dynamic and nearly doubles the number of Simons STEM Scholars on campus, which means doubling the success, doubling the amount of students, the dreams and the wishes,” added Cabrera.

The signing took place the day after the passing of Jim Simons, co-founder and co-chair of the Simons Foundation and Simons Foundation International, which funded the $56.6 million donation to support the creation of the Simons STEM Scholars program to provide scholars with full scholarships, housing, research opportunities, internship stipends, advising, mentoring and more to comprehensively ameliorate the STEM career pipeline for underrepresented students.

In 2022, when the donation to fund Simons STEM Scholars was announced, Jim and Marilyn Simons said, “We’re proud to see the foundation taking steps to increase diversity in STEM fields. The support network, tight-knit community, and sense of belonging that students will find in this program will be life-changing. We’re incredibly proud to be part of a program like this, with positive implications not just for Stony Brook, but for New York State and the broader scientific and mathematical communities.”

The legacy of Jim Simons and his generosity toward Stony Brook and toward improving diversity and STEM education will live on through the STEM scholars and their noteworthy achievements. 

— Beth Squire

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