A new major federal science grant will give more Jacksonville University students a leg up in the fields of science, technology, math and engineering.
The National Science Foundation has just named Jacksonville University the newest recipient of a $625,000 grant--the largest grant JU has received from the federal science agency to date.
JU Biology Professor Lee Ann Clements, who chairs the university's the science and mathematics division, said the university received the news about a week ago.
The last time the school was awarded a grant from the Foundation was in 2000 for about $57,000.
"We applied two years ago and did not get funded...and then, were invited to reapply and got funded this time," she said. "So there’s that anticipation for two solid years of ‘Oh, I hope we get funded. I hope we get funded,' and then the reality is ‘Oh, wow, well, now the real work starts,’" Clements said.
The money will allow the university to offer 14 annual scholarships of up to $10,000 to low-income students in STEM fields. In doing so, the university hopes to increase more diversity and persistence in the science and math fields, where the demand for more highly-skilled workers is great, Clements said.
"Often the students have some trouble meeting the financial commitment and don’t finish the major," she said. "We’re also providing them with some other kinds of support in terms of tutoring, social support, mentoring."
Funds from the grant will also go toward supporting the university’s 120-million-dollar ASPIRE campaign to enhance the student experience through program and facility upgrades. Clements says money will also go toward sending students on engineering-related field trips and conferences as well as mathematical competitions.
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