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GSW awarded portion of $3 million National Science Foundation grant to promote minority participation in STEM

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a portion of a $3 million grant to Georgia Southwestern State University (GSW) to increase the number of underrepresented minority students (URM) graduating with degrees in the STEM fields—science, technology, mathematics and engineering.

GSW is a founding member of the first-ever Southwest Georgia consortium of the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP), or the Southwest Georgia LSAMP Alliance.

Funded by the NSF LSAMP program, the Southwest Georgia LSAMP Alliance aims to transform the STEM learning environment by significantly increasing the number of URM majors graduating with baccalaureate degrees and applying to graduate programs in the STEM disciplines.

“The LSAMP program will help students in STEM fields gain valuable experience doing undergraduate research early in their academic careers,” said Sam Peavy, PhD, chair of the Department of Chemistry, Geology and Physics. Peavy, who also serves as a Co-Principle Investigator for the consortium, stated LSAMP scholars will receive a stipend, mentoring, research and internship opportunities, invitations to research conferences to present their work, and preparation for the Graduate Research Examination.

As part of the LSAMP scholar program which began in Spring 2019, 27 URM students will be selected each year. The consortium hopes to serve a total of 140 LSAMP scholars over the five-year duration of the grant; GSW is allotted three scholars per year.

Initial LSAMP scholars are Nadia Ford of Atlanta, freshman Biology major; Awung Betanga of Atlanta, freshman Computer Science major; and Chelse’ Perry of Americus, senior Biology major.

The consortium is a partnership between six institutions in southwest Georgia: Columbus State University (lead institution), GSW, Valdosta State University, Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, Columbus Technical College and South Georgia Technical College. 

Scholars will meet monthly with one another at their individual institutions, as well as annually with other scholars in the consortium. They will learn to complete and present research, as well as network in a professional environment. They will also be encouraged to attend national conferences and pursue additional research through the NSF.

To be eligible as an LSAMP scholar, students must be a URM enrolled at one of the partner institutions, pursue a degree in an approved LSAMP STEM discipline, maintain a 2.5 GPA or higher and be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident who is at least 18 years old. 

Current scholars will reapply yearly for the program. Some benefits of the program, such as guest speaker presentations, will also be available to all STEM students at each institution.

For the purposes of this grant, URM students are from the following backgrounds: African Americans, Hispanic Americans, American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, and Native Pacific Islanders.

Pictured left to right are GSW LSAMP scholars Awung Betanga of Atlanta, Nadia Ford of Atlanta, and Chelse’ Perry of Americus.