CSU Receives $3 Million Grant to Increase STEM Opportunities for Students in Southwest Georgia

Columbus State University recently received a $3 million grant to take the lead on a regional effort to prepare more underrepresented minority undergraduate students for careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). The program, based on the undergraduate experiences of Dr. Monica Frazier, CSU Associate Professor of Biology, will create a scholar program for 140 STEM students over the next five years at six institutions in Southwest Georgia.

"I'm very excited to provide these students the opportunity to experience the fun of research and to network with other minority researchers," said Dr. Frazier. "I had a great experience as an undergraduate doing research in a similar program, and I want to pass that experience forward to the next generation."

The grant award from the National Science Foundation creates the first ever Southwest Georgia consortium of the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP). The consortium, or the Southwestern Georgia STEM Pathways Alliance Program, will strive to increase the number of minority students interested in earning baccalaureate, masters and/or doctorates in STEM fields. As part of the program, 28 underrepresented minority students a year will be selected for the LSAMP scholar program, which will begin in the spring 2019 semester.

"CSU has always been strongly committed to promoting quality education to students in STEM," said Dr. Deborah Bordelon, CSU Provost and Executive VP for Academic Affairs. "This provides us the resources to reach out to talented students interested in the field who may not have otherwise seen a future in it. It provides a structured opportunity for them to see themselves as researchers and leaders."

Students selected for the scholar program will receive a stipend, mentoring, research and internship opportunities, invitations to research conferences, and preparation for the Graduate Research Examination. Scholars will meet monthly with one another at their individual institutions, as well as annually with other scholars in the consortium. They will learn to complete and present research, as well as network in a professional environment. They will also be encouraged to attend national conferences and pursue additional research through the NSF.

"It is all about helping them see themselves as leaders and develop a passion for the STEM fields," said Dr. Bordelon.

To be eligible for the program, applicants must be an underrepresented minority student enrolled at one of the partnering institutions, pursue a degree in an approved LSAMP STEM discipline, maintain a 3.0 GPA or higher and be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident who is at least 18 years old. Some benefits of the program, such as guest speaker presentations, will also be available to students at the institutions who are not in the scholar program.

The consortium is a partnership between Columbus State University, Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, Columbus Technical College, Georgia Southwestern State University, South Georgia Technical College and Valdosta State University. Columbus State will bring the institutions together to determine best practices for preparing undergraduate STEM students for graduate level research.

For more information on the program, contact Monica Frazier, Director of Southwest Georgia LSAMP program, CSU Associate Professor of Biology, at frazier_monica@columbusstate.edu.