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Biology

CWU Receives More Than $600,000 to Increase Diversity in the Sciences

More than 25, two-year scholarships in the amount of $20,000 will become available to academically talented students majoring in a STEM (science, technology, engineering, or math) discipline, thanks to a new program at Central Washington University.

Professors Audrey Huerta, geological sciences, and Alison Scoville biological sciences, received $612,840 from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for their five-year program, SOLVER (Sustainability for Our Livelihood, Values, Environment, and Resources). They will receive $64,018 for scholarships this year. The deadline for this year’s applications is May 15. Students can apply at www.cwu.edu/solver.

“Our goal is to substantially increase the success of traditionally underrepresented minorities in these high-demand fields,” said Huerta. “Five scholarships will be awarded this year, and we are seeking applicants for them now.”

The overall objective of SOLVER is to increase the quality and diversity of students graduating with bachelor’s degrees in the STEM fields, with an emphasis on recruitment, retention, and graduation of Hispanic and Native American students. The SOLVER program will provide scholars with financial, academic, personal, and professional support.

“We plan to develop instructional materials and resources that will enhance the established curriculum,” noted Scoville. “We will focus on educational best practices that are particularly powerful for underrepresented minorities and can be tailored to fit the needs of these particular populations.”

In particular, the program will employ six high-impact practices that increase both student persistence and achievement: a learning community organized around a fundamental issue (sustainability), common intellectual experiences within this community, diversity learning, undergraduate research opportunities, academic service learning, and internships.

These practices will be coupled with strong student support, including targeted recruiting and application assistance, community and family involvement, individualized academic counseling, faculty and peer mentoring, tutoring, career development, and leadership training.

The SOLVER program will strengthen ties between CWU and local Hispanic and Native American communities, train CWU faculty mentors in cultural responsiveness and student support services, and make the CWU community generally more aware of regional diversity through campus-wide events. For more information, go to www.cwu.edu/solver.

Media Contact: Valerie Chapman-Stockwell, Public Affairs, 509-963-1518, valeriec@cwu.edu