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Stony Brook Leads Effort to Increase STEM Degrees for Underrepresented


Underscoring our commitment to diversity and social mobility, Stony Brook University is the lead institution for a new $4 million five-year National Science Foundation (NSF) grant designed to increase undergraduate and graduate degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in underrepresented minority (UREP) student populations.

SUNY LSAMP Project Director and Distinguished Service Professor David Ferguson with SBU Biology major Belinda Boakye and other students in the Department of Technology and Society computer lab.

The grant supports the SUNY Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) program, a synergistic collaboration and alliance of 14 SUNY schools with a diverse mix of academic strengths and capabilities.

Since 1996, SUNY LSAMP has been an instrumental program to shape STEM education and forge new opportunities for UREP students to pursue and succeed in STEM programs and degrees in New York State. Over the past 20 years, SUNY LSAMP has achieved an 11-fold increase in STEM enrollment for minority students in comparison to the previous 20 years in the state. The program has also helped increase STEM bachelor’s degrees by almost 300 percent. During the past 5 years, the program has been a catalyst to helping to nearly double community college students transferring to four-year STEM undergraduate programs.

“SUNY LSAMP is an outstanding NSF-supported program and a catalyst to building a diverse STEM workforce as we move further into the 21st Century,” said Samuel L. Stanley Jr., MD, President of Stony Brook University. “For two decades, Stony Brook, under the guidance of Dr. Ferguson and his team of educators, has been leading the LSAMP program by advising and mentoring underrepresented students in STEM fields and helping them prepare for careers or graduate education. I applaud them for their past achievements and look forward to their future successes.”

“Increasing diversity in STEM degrees is a major strategic goal of our college as we strive to do our part to help the nation close the innovation deficit and stay competitive in a technology-driven global economy,” said Fotis Sotiropoulos, PhD, Dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences. “LSAMP provides our underrepresented students with incredible opportunities in the classroom and paves the way to exciting career opportunities in technical fields.”

Stony Brook University will receive $1.6 million of the $4 million as the lead school involved in the SUNY LSAMP alliance. Stony Brook and the other SUNY schools will look to expand the alliance and create additional STEM curriculum opportunities for students. Over the next five years, the three leading goals of the project will be to: meet the continuing challenge of preparing UREP students for a successful transition into STEM majors; provide experimental activities that lead to socialization into science; and promote systemic change by broadening participation in research.

“Our alliance will scale up programs that build our momentum to increase student recruitment and retention,” said David Ferguson, Project Director, Co-Principal Investigator, and SUNY Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Technology and Society in the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences. “We will also focus on improving STEM pathways from community colleges to four-year schools and creating a pipeline to produce global researchers and scholars.”

To date, SUNY LSAMP has taken leadership in STEM curricular reform on the SUNY campuses and has supported UREP STEM student needs. The effort has led to engagement among faculty, staff, administrators and heads of academic departments to create new infrastructures on campuses to enhance UREP students’ participation and pursuit of STEM higher education.

SUNY LSAMP has also received 10 grants for NSF fellowships and support services for 10 groups of 12 LSAMP graduates through the LSAMP Bridge to the Doctorate program – five of these 10 groups are taking place at Stony Brook.  The Bridge program has increased the UREP STEM doctoral pool by bringing in students from LSAMP programs around the country and supporting them in their first two years of SUNY graduate work and on to completion of their doctorates.

The NSF has supported the SUNY LSAMP program since its inception. This latest grant is the fifth stage of funding and will build upon and fine-tune the Fostering STEM Identity through Transitions (FIT) model that will conduct an in-depth examination of the pivotal experiences that lead to engagement, retention and over-all success of UREP STEM college students.

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