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March 31, 2013

SUNY Oneonta receives STEM grant

Staff Report
The Daily Star

---- — SUNY Oneonta has been awarded a $612,515 grant from the National Science Foundation that will help 24 students in mathematics and science programs with scholarships, a media release from the college said.

“Critical MaSS: Math and Science Scholars” is designed to help students who face significant barriers to graduate and enter careers or advanced degree programs in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, often referred to as STEM disciplines.

The five-year grant, which was awarded through the NSF’s S-STEM Program, will support State University College at Oneonta students with scholarships of up to $5,400 a year, the release said. The supported students will be studying in the fields of biology, chemistry and biochemistry, earth and atmospheric sciences, mathematics, computer science and statistics, physics and astronomy, or environmental science.

Incoming freshmen who meet the program’s academic requirements and demonstrate substantial financial need will be recruited to begin the program this fall, SUNY officials said. The goal is to have at least half of the scholars come from the College Assistance Migrant Program and the Educational Opportunity Program.

“I am delighted that the NSF has recognized SUNY Oneonta’s critical contribution to the pipeline for STEM careers and graduate studies,” SUNY Oneonta Provost Maria Thompson said in the release. “Such a large investment in the college also signifies the excellence of our faculty in mentoring undergraduates and preparing them to continue scholarly research and pursue advanced degrees after graduating.”

John Schaumloffel, local project coordinator and chair of the college’s chemistry and biochemistry department, said SUNY Oneonta may be known for having low student-debt for its graduates, but many students and their families have difficulty paying for college.

“The S-STEM program will offer a wide variety of experiences and opportunities to help students graduate in their major, in four years, as engaged scientists and mathematicians, while helping to reduce their debt burden,” he said in the release.

Working with Schaumloffel on the project are Jennifer Withington, assistant professor of biology; Jason Smolinski, assistant professor of physics and astronomy; and Nathan Gonyea, associate professor of educational psychology, counseling and special education.

The project also seeks to encourage undergraduate research and/or professional travel and to enhance opportunities for scholars to secure internships, careers or opportunities for graduate studies.

Project collaborators will evaluate the 24 scholars’ progress, satisfaction and achievement during their time at SUNY Oneonta and for 24 months after they graduate, the release said.