The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently awarded $1 million in funding to benefit students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programs at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO).
The NSF’s Scholarships in STEM (S-STEM) grant will provide students with funding and research opportunities through UNO’s Empowering undergraduates via Mentorships, Professional development, Leadership, and Opportunities for Youth EngagEment (EMPLOYEE) program. The EMPLOYEE program aims to raise completion rates among low-income, high-achieving undergraduate students in STEM degree programs and ultimately meet workforce development needs in Omaha and surrounding areas.
“The scholarships and opportunities made possible by this grant could be the difference between a student continuing their pursuit of a STEM degree or stopping short,” said Sacha Kopp, Ph.D., senior vice chancellor for academic affairs. “This grant from the National Science Foundation also aligns with the university’s Completion Imperative, which aims to see that every student who enrolls at UNO earns a degree.”
"This grant from the National Science Foundation also aligns with the university’s Completion Imperative, which aims to see that every student who enrolls at UNO earns a degree."
- Sacha Kopp, Ph.D., senior vice chancellor for academic affairs
Funds from the program will be distributed to more than 20 students selected through an application process who demonstrate financial need. Students in the EMPLOYEE program will also benefit from pairing course-based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs) with opportunities for mentorship, professional development and service. For example, the NE STEM 4U service program empowers students to develop their leadership and mentoring skills by engaging elementary and middle school students in STEM concepts.
Students can apply for the EMPLOYEE program by visiting the UNO STEM TRAIL Center website.
Additional scholarship funds are available for STEM students through other means such as the NebraskaMATH Omaha Noyce Partnership or the recently announced NebraskaSCIENCE Omaha Noyce Partnership — both of which were made possible through $2.8 million in separate NSF Noyce Teacher Scholarship grants.
“We aim to provide continued opportunities for students to pursue STEM majors at the University level while also adding to the body of literature about the impact that synergistic programs can have on the critical thinking skills and employability of undergraduates,” said Christine Cutucache, Ph.D., associate professor of biology and Haddix Community Chair of Science. “Similarly, in an effort to work toward the campus’s Completion Imperative goals, we will provide the financial support to students, but more importantly we provide the cohort small group mentoring experiences with STEM faculty.”
The NSF’s Scholarships in STEM program aims to improve the education of future STEM workers. The program supports Phase II of UNO’s STEM Strategic Plan which calls for the university to further strengthen and expand its STEM infrastructure to support continued innovation and growth in STEM teaching, research, and outreach. Dr. Cutucache’s vision is to pursue a Phase III, $5M proposal with many of UNO’s institutional partners in the coming years.
Dr. Cutucache serves as principal investigator and lead for UNO’s EMPLOYEE S-STEM program alongside an interdisciplinary team of faculty and administrators. The group includes Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Sacha Kopp, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Chemistry John Conrad, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Teacher Education Kelly Gomez-Johnson, Ed.D., Associate Professor of Biology Claudia Rauter, Ph.D., Haddix Community Chair of Physical Science Christopher Moore, Ph.D., Sophie and Feodora Kahn Professor of Biology William Tapprich, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Biology Timothy Dickson, Ph.D.
About the University of Nebraska at Omaha
Located in one of America’s best cities to live, work and learn, the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) is Nebraska’s premier metropolitan university. With more than 15,000 students enrolled in 200-plus programs of study, UNO is recognized nationally for its online education, graduate education, military friendliness and community engagement efforts. Founded in 1908, UNO has served learners of all backgrounds for more than 100 years and is dedicated to another century of excellence both in the classroom and in the community.