Friday, September 8, 2017 - 12:00pm

Mercy College has just become the proud and grateful recipient of a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant in the amount of $2,289,022.

The grant is for the five-year project, "Collaborative Research: Institutional Collaboration to Recruit, Retain, and Graduate Low-Income Students in Biology." Dr. Anthony Canger is the principal investigator and director of the grant; Dr. Renee Haskew-Layton is a co-principal investigator. Both are in Mercy's Department of Natural Sciences.

“According to a 2016 National Student Clearinghouse report, students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds are less likely to complete undergraduate STEM degrees when compared with students from higher income households,” explained Haskew-Layton, assistant professor, program head biology. “Such reports highlight the need to provide evidence-based programs that promote increased persistence and success in STEM degree programs, such as biology, for low-income students.”

The NSF grant will help Mercy do exactly that, providing annual scholarship support of approximately $6,000 each to 24 selected Mercy College biology majors. In addition to the financial aid, students will be provided a laptop and funding to attend area scientific meetings and an annual NSF scholars institute in Washington DC.

“There is a critical need to develop academic programs and support services that increase the persistence and graduation rates of economically disadvantaged students in biology and other STEM fields,” said Canger, associate professor of biology. “Increasing the diversity of students entering graduate programs and careers in STEM is critical to ensure we have the trained professionals and diverse perspectives necessary to solve complex problems.”

Additional programs supported through the grant include: faculty and peer mentoring initiatives, graduate school and career exploration workshops, scientific seminar series, hands-on authentic research and project-based learning experiences.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 that promotes not only the progress of science, but also the national health, prosperity, and welfare of the American people. The agency's grant to Mercy starts January 1, 2018, and ends December 31, 2022.