NSF-Funded Program Will Support Student Access to STEM Education

December 3, 2019

Associate Dean of Graduate Studies and Associate Professor of Chemistry Alison Hyslop, Ph.D. – along with colleagues Dr. Lawrence Hobbie (Adelphi University), Prof. Jacqueline Lee (Nassau Community College), Dr. Michael Pullin (Queensborough Community College), and Dr. Jessica Santangelo (Hofstra University) – has received a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to form a regional group that will enhance undergraduate biology education by promoting new collaborations among biology, chemistry, and mathematics faculty at both two- and four-year institutions.

Stem2 Network

The NSF Research Coordination Networks in Undergraduate Biology Education (RCN-UBE) Incubator award in the amount of $74,327 will fund the project, “Sustainable, Transformative Engagement across a Multi-Institution/Multidisciplinary STEM (STEM)2 Network.”

Overall, the (STEM)2 Network aims to promote collaboration between regional public community colleges and four-year private institutions, empower faculty to create change beyond their individual classrooms, and create enduring pedagogical collaborations across the STEM disciplines that biology students encounter while completing their requirements for the major. Within the one-year term of the grant, they will identify opportunities for educational collaborations, utilize systems theory of change to map their current institutional environments, and identify opportunities for collaboration by aligning disciplinary guiding documents. Within St. John’s, faculty will work toward collating syllabi and course descriptions for relevant courses, initiating a systems map of the institution, and aligning guiding documents for the STEM disciplines. By doing so, they hope to make it easier for students to transfer into four-year institutions from two-year colleges and to improve biology students’ learning in their non-biology STEM courses.

The grant award reflects an awareness of the interdisciplinary nature of STEM education. By strengthening collaboration in disciplines related to biology, the grant authors argue, undergraduate biology education will improve. Dr. Hyslop, a chemist, emphasizes that improving undergraduate biology education requires a multidisciplinary approach with leadership and buy-in from all disciplines.

The Network has planned several in-person and virtual meetings throughout the course of the year to achieve their goals and will prepare a website to publish updates and activities.

Once the grant term is complete, the Network will work to grow participation of faculty and institutions and promote the institutional changes they have identified.

“The goal of this Network is to bring together faculty and institutions to improve undergraduate STEM education, and to work to transform our classrooms and institutions to provide access to these fields for all students who want to pursue STEM degrees,” said Dr. Hyslop.

Dr. Hyslop is an advocate of improving access to STEM education for underrepresented student populations. In 2016, she worked with STEM faculty at St. John’s to implement the NSF-funded S-STEM Scholars Program, which provides scholarships of up to $5,000 per year for three years for students with demonstrated financial need.