$872,523 grant to help younger students stay with STEM

The National Science Foundation recently awarded SUNY Oswego a five-year, $872,523 grant to boost the retention of freshmen and sophomores in STEM majors.

The grant will enable the college to increase support services — especially in math and chemistry — and research opportunities for all science, technology, engineering and math majors, with a particular eye to helping younger students avoid academic disqualification, switches to non-STEM majors and other departures from science and math disciplines.

Damkaci and Peng

Shirley Peng ’12, right, a chemistry major and journalism minor, talks with Fehmi Damkaci, assistant professor of chemistry and associate dean of graduate studies about the possibility of mentoring freshmen and sophomore STEM majors whose difficulties with required math and chemistry courses can lead to academic disqualification, changes in major or transfer.

“This will be one piece in the puzzle to streamline success for our students from high school to graduation,” said Associate Dean of Graduate Studies Fehmi Damkaci, assistant professor of chemistry and principal investigator for the grant.

The grant outlines a five-step program to shore up support for freshman and sophomore STEM majors: expanding a summer math camp for incoming STEM majors to include chemistry content and more students; integrating “math in context” components for introductory chemistry and physics classes; expanding and improving the tutoring services available to STEM students; instituting peer mentoring by upperclassmen for freshmen and sophomores; and expanding summer research opportunities for freshmen and sophomores in STEM.

The college plans to expand its Summer Scholars program to offer more opportunities for freshmen and sophomores to work with faculty on research projects.

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