Heritage University receives $5 million federal grant to support STEM students at HU and at Portland State University

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Heritage University awarded $5 million National Science Foundation grant to support STEM students at Heritage and Portland State University

Toppenish, Wash. – Heritage University has received a $5 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support high-achieving, low-income students majoring in STEM fields at Heritage and Portland State University (PSU) in Oregon. The grant will fund a program titled Engagement Achievement and Graduation for Low-incomE Students, or “EAGLES,” and will provide scholarships to cover tuition for at least 116 students in STEM majors, including environmental science, engineering, ecology, chemistry, and biology at both campuses.

EAGLES will accomplish three objectives. The first will be to increase enrollment and retention of low-income and other under-represented groups in STEM fields; the second will be to develop an integrated structure to mentor, advise and engage these students in research and outreach activities focused on community-based challenges associated with environmental pollution; and the third will be to examine the impact of instructional interventions in introductory STEM courses and to fine-tune culturally-responsive learning procedures aimed at developing undergraduate students’ science identity and sense of community. With annual career panels at both Heritage and PSU, additional support services, research experiences, and coursework, EAGLES will not only provide scholarships for biology, environmental science and studies, and chemistry students but will also enhance learning opportunities. EAGLES will fill existing gaps at HU in the STEM pathway by allowing Heritage pre-engineering students to pursue bachelor’s degrees in civil and environmental engineering at PSU and giving them access to PSU career placement services and graduate programs.

Heritage Associate Professor Alexander Alexiades, Ph.D. is the principal investigator along with his counterpart at PSU, Dr. Gwynn Johnson. Alexiades will oversee the EAGLES program at Heritage. He is excited about the STEM opportunities for Heritage students, and for the possibility for the EAGLES model to be used at other campuses across the country.

“The research and service-learning activities conducted by our students will address authentic local and regional issues and strengthen community connections, and these results will demonstrate a model worthy of national replication for increasing enrollment, retention, and graduation in STEM majors and development of the sense of science identity needed in further studies and/or careers in the environmental sciences and engineering.”

Heritage Provost Dr. Kazuhiro Sonoda said this NSF award, when combined with other recent NSF grants (including a $2.5 million announced in June and a $350K grant for research experiences for undergraduates), the university is well-positioned to help STEM students for the next five years. “Heritage University and PSU campuses serve some of the nation’s highest-need students,” said. Sonoda. “These awards make it possible for us to create a comprehensive support system for our STEM students, and I’m very excited about the opportunities these grants will help us bring to them.”

The EAGLES program at HU and PSU will begin in September of this year and run through September 2024. For more information, contact David Mance, media relations coordinator at Heritage University at (509) 969-6084 or Mance_D@heritage.edu.

 

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