UAlbany Tapped to Lead $2.5 Million NSF Grant Aimed at Increasing STEM Participation Among Underrepresented Students

Sydney Hanson presents her research at a Lecture Center podium.
Sydney Hanson, a student researcher at The RNA Institute, presents as part of the Summer Research Program Symposium at UAlbany. (Photo by Patrick Dodson)

By Mike Nolan

ALBANY, N.Y. (Aug. 11, 2022) The University at Albany has been selected as the lead institution for a new $2.5 million grant that aims to recruit, retain and graduate underrepresented minority (URM) students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

The five-year, National Science Foundation (NSF) grant will support the SUNY Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (SUNY LSAMP) program, a collaboration among 15 SUNY institutions that has played an instrumental role in diversifying the nation’s STEM workforce over the last 20-plus years.

Through the grant, partner institutions will receive direct funding for student support and mentorship services. The SUNY LSAMP Alliance will have opportunities to apply for supplement funds to support conferences, undergraduate research, and other related program objectives.  

UAlbany has also secured collaboration letters from private industry partners, including GlobalFoundries and Regeneron, both of which will offer stipends for undergraduate summer researchers. Brookhaven National Laboratory and Feinstein Institutes of Medical Research have pledged to support the project as well.

“As one of the nation’s leading diverse public research institutions, the University at Albany is committed to creating pathways to excellence for students of all backgrounds,” said UAlbany Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Carol Kim, the grant’s principal investigator. “We are proud to continue the mission of SUNY LSAMP and create a new pool of diverse scholars who will ultimately become the future leaders of our STEM workforce and research communities.”

“It has been a great pleasure to work with colleagues across SUNY who are dedicated to supporting historically underrepresented students, and we are excited to have the opportunity to lead the SUNY LSAMP Alliance through this next round of funding,” said UAlbany Assistant Dean of Graduate Education Shanise Kent, who has been part of SUNY LSAMP since 2009 and will serve as the new program director. “Our previous funding focused on best practices to prepare LSAMP students for their next steps, whether that be graduate school or the workforce. Under this new grant, we will expand that work, and in collaboration with industry partners, explore best practices in creating inclusive and equitable workplaces.”

Diversity in STEM

Along with UAlbany, other SUNY institutions receiving grant support include Binghamton University, University at Buffalo, Stony Brook University, Buffalo State College, College at New Paltz, College at Old Westbury, Hudson Valley Community College, Rockland Community College, and SUNY System Administration.

Project leaders have outlined five objectives to broaden the participation of URM students in STEM, including:

  • A focus on individual student engagement, retention, and progression to bachelor’s degrees through new student seminars, comprehensive academic support services and partnerships.
  • Improving the transfer rate of students from two-year to four-year institutions through the SUNY Seamless Transfer initiative and partnerships with community colleges across the state.
  • Increased access to high-quality STEM mentoring and student research experiences through an Alliance-wide summer research program, industry partnerships, and resources to help students apply and secure research experiences.
  • A more seamless transition of students into STEM graduate programs and degree completion through graduate school preparation workshops, resources to assist the application process and integration of the SUNY’s Promoting Recruitment, Opportunity, Diversity, Inclusion, Growth program and Graduate Diversity Fellowship Program and Graduate Opportunity Program.
  • Stimulating new research and learning on broadening participation in STEM through the NSF-funded study, Fostering (STEM) Identity through Transition (FIT) to College among Underrepresented Students, and additional collaboration opportunities with faculty, staff and industry partners.

The SUNY LSAMP Program

Launched in 1996, the SUNY LSAMP program has been continuously funded by NSF since its inception, previously under the leadership of its late founding project director, David Ferguson, a Distinguished Service Professor of Technology and Society and Applied Mathematics and Statistics and retired project administrator, Lucille Gluck, at Stony Brook University.

As part of broad efforts implemented through SUNY LSAMP, in collaboration with the state and other partners, partner institutions saw a 722 percent increase in URM STEM bachelor undergraduate enrollment between 1996 and 2019 and an 814 percent increase in undergraduate STEM bachelor’s degrees over the same time period.

SUNY LSAMP community college partners also increased URM STEM associate degree enrollment by 788 percent.