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CSU Fullerton receives $1.2M for STEM programs

The funding will help the school reach students interested in pursuing scientific careers

by Caitlin AdamsPublished: June 01, 2012 03:45 PM

Graduate assistant Ben Smyth helps HHMI
community college students. Photo by
K. Tapia
The Howard Hughes Medical Institute, one of the largest nonprofit research organizations in the nation, has selected Cal State Fullerton to receive a $1.2 million grant to fund the school’s ongoing efforts to provide “real world research experiences” for students in college and high school.

“What this grant means is that we will be able to continue reaching students who are thinking of careers in STEM fields and providing them research experiences, even before they come to Cal State Fullerton,” said Robert Koch, acting dean of CSU Fullerton’s College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.

CSU Fullerton is one of 47 universities to receive a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) grant ranging from $800,000 to $1.5 million, and totaling more than $50 million in funds dispersed by the institute. The nonprofit invited 215 colleges and universities to submit proposals for funding focusing on various aspects of science education. Some of the schools awarded funds plan to employ them in improving science-teaching skills among educators, engaging undergraduates in K-12 science outreach programs and activities, and taking on new faculty members to teach in interdisciplinary areas.

CSU Fullerton was granted its award for its commitment to STEM programs –– science, technology, engineering and math –– aimed at attracting more high school, community college and CSUF students toward these fields of study, according to Maria Linder, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry at CSU Fullerton and the recipient of the grant.

“The overarching goal is to promote and encourage the flow of undergraduates from our diverse and disadvantaged population into science and math careers as leading researchers and teachers by identifying, developing and preparing those with exceptional potential,” said Maria C. Linder, professor of chemistry and biochemistry and recipient of the grant award.

The real world research experiences funded by this grant allow undergraduates and high school students an opportunity to participate in professional-level research programs.

CSUF first launched the Cal State Fullerton HHMI Research Scholars Program in 2008, with the receipt of an earlier grant award of $1.2 million from HHMI. In its four years, the program has introduced three initiatives to educate, immerse or introduce students to scientific research.

The Undergraduate Research Scholars Program selects 14 undergraduate Cal State Fullerton students for an intensive 2-year faculty-mentored study program. Local community college students, high school students and math and science teachers are also invited to participate in some aspects of the program as well as grant-funded activities.

The annual Weekend Research Experience invites community college and high school students and educators to join faculty members in working on a research project, engaging directly with experimental work and aiding in research. The annual Summer Research Experience provides a similar experience for community college and high school students and educators, together with CSUF students; in this program, the groups come together to work on faculty-mentored research over either a 10-week or 5-week session.

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