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UCA Chemistry Department Receives $650K Grant for Low-Income, Diversity Program


National Science Foundation’s Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (S-STEM) programhas awarded the University of Central Arkansas’ Department of Chemistry with a $650,000 to establish a program for low-income chemistry majors from diverse backgrounds.

UCA Department of Chemistry lecturer Faith Yarberry will be the lead for the program, serving as principal investigator for the “Fostering a Diverse Community of Future Chemists Through Scholarship Support, Peer Instruction, Mentoring, and Professional Development” program.

As part of the program, UCA will create the Arkansas Talented, Optimistic Motivated (ATOM) Scholars program. The ATOM program will award scholarships of up-to $10,000 to at least 10 UCA chemistry majors. In addition, the ATOM program will provide supplemental instruction in chemistry courses and mentoring program, called Mentorship Circle.

The Mentorship Circle will be led by faculty members. A sophomore, junior and senior will also mentor a freshman ATOM Scholar.

“UCA’s Department of Chemistry is very unique in its composition. This grant, especially in the state of Arkansas, will increase the diversity of the individuals graduating with degrees in chemistry,” Yarberry said in a statement. “The grant is expected to not only impact the student, it will also impact the communities in which that student lives because when individuals see someone like themselves being successful within a field, they then can see themselves being successful.”

The S-STEM program, part of the National Science Foundation, is aimed at providing a “high quality STEm workforce in STEM disciplines.” In addition, the program’s mission is to assist low-income but academically talented students who are pursuing higher education degrees in STEM programs.

The National Science Foundation supports research and education in science and engineering fields by providing grants and other funding. According to the NSF website, the organization receives approximately 40,000 proposals annually, and roughly 11,000 of those proposals are funded.

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