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$617,000 NSF Grant to Fund Scholarships in Chemistry at Duquesne University

Duquesne University's Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences and the School of Education have received a $617,850 grant from the National Science Foundation-money earmarked for scholarships for academically talented, financially challenged undergraduate and graduate students through the Scholarships for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (S-STEM) program.

The program will provide opportunities for social mobility and meet workforce needs. Here's how: Starting this fall, the new initiative will support eligible chemistry majors who are enrolled at Duquesne or who transfer to the University from community college. In the first year, one graduate mentor will be teamed with three freshmen and two junior chemistry majors. Within five years, the cohort will support 19 students: nine freshmen, five community college transfers, two upperclassmen and three doctoral chemistry students.

"We will impact a wide range of academically talented and proven students, and help them financially to get a first-rate educational experience at Duquesne University," said Dr. Jeffrey Evanseck, professor of chemistry and biochemistry, and principal investigator for the grant. "We want to utilize local talents and attract our best students to the sciences."

Besides helping individuals, the program aims to impact the workforce positively. "This is a way of increasing diversity in the STEM workforce from an economic perspective," said Dr. David W. Seybert, chemistry professor and a grant co-investigator who served as dean during the proposal application. Admissions, financial aid, DU's Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE) and the School of Education are involved in this concerted effort.

With increased international demand in STEM fields, the U.S. will need to recruit more home-grown talent to remain competitive.

"The talent's out there," said Evanseck.

These scholarships provide options to students who otherwise might not consider a private school education and/or a bachelor's degree, said Paul-James Cukanna, associate provost for enrollment management.

"It will ensure that academically talented, financially disadvantaged students will have both access and choice," Cukanna said.

Scholarships will be awarded based upon college applications; no separate application is required. This scholarship will be combined with any other academic or needs-based award received, explained Rich Esposito, director of financial aid.

This program also includes an integrated mentoring component that will address academic and non-academic issues. Research shows that capable students from disadvantaged backgrounds are more apt to complete degrees on time when they receive academic support and reinforcement of non-academic skills, such as leadership. Duquesne's CTE's mentoring resources will be tailored to this group, said Laurel Willingham-McLain, CTE director.

The program is supported by the Pennsylvania Administrators' Council on Education, the Community College of Allegheny County, Bayer Material Science, the Bayer USA Foundation and the regional Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science.

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. Duquesne, a campus of nearly 9,500 graduate and undergraduate students, has been nationally recognized for its academic programs, community service and commitment to sustainability. Follow Duquesne University on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.