The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded Dominican University New York a $1.5 million, six-year grant to launch a new program that supports high-achieving, low-income STEM students.
The majority of the NSF grant funds will be used to provide 4-year scholarships of up to $10,000 per year to 26 biology students. The first scholarships will be awarded to incoming freshman in fall 2023 as part of the BLAST (Biology for Low-income Aspiring Scholars in Training) Program.
AnnMarie DelliPizzi, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Biology, said that BLAST Program aims to increase student retention and success by linking scholarships with co-curricular activities, including academic support, mentoring, and undergraduate research. The BLAST students will meet with visiting scholars from other universities or industry to be exposed to different career paths.
“Low-income students often have to work multiple jobs to pay for school, and this frequently interferes with successfully completing their degrees,” said Regina Alvarez, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Biology. “The scholarships provided by the grant will help to alleviate this burden, allowing students more time to focus on academics.”
Elena Guevara, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Biology, said, “In addition to the scholarships that the students receive, other support includes things such as travel to a scientific conference during freshman year, funds for their senior capstone projects, trips to visit faculty at research-intensive universities, and more.”
Dominican University New York has been designated a Hispanic-Serving Institution and the BLAST program has the potential to increase the diversity of the STEM workforce. The goal of the grant is for students to remain in school, graduate, and either secure employment in a STEM field or enter graduate school.
The NSF grant received is a Track 2 S-STEM grant (Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics grant), award #2221106. In 2015, Dominican received a $590,000 Track 1 grant from the NSF to provide scholarships and support to students. This new grant builds on the success of that initial grant, submitted by Bernadette Connors, Ph.D., Professor of Biology. Institutions of higher education must have received a Track 1 grant in order to be eligible to apply for a Track 2 grant.
Dominican University New York biology faculty worked together to prepare and submit the NSF grant application and stress that their teamwork was critical to the success of the application.