USD Awarded $1 Million NSF Grant To Recruit and Mentor Local Rising Stars in STEM

The University of San Diego (USD) was awarded a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support a 5-year project that will recruit and support students from underrepresented communities interested in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects.

The project, known as AnchorSTEM: Engaging with Community for Undergraduate Student Success in Mathematics, Engineering and Science, will serve as a pilot and guide for USD and other schools by creating and assessing the effectiveness of infrastructure and how it affects the students’ persistence and success in STEM.  Findings will be disseminated in appropriate journals and conferences and through an online presence.

With the help of pre-college serving community partners, AnchorSTEM will recruit and support two cohorts of eight students interested in STEM.  Entering first-year scholars will receive up to four years of scholarship support, individualized mentoring, opportunities to engage in research, and/or paid internships, community-building, career-readiness training and financial support to attend conferences. 

“I am very excited for the opportunity to work with an awesome team of colleagues at USD and within our San Diego community to enhance the pathways for Rising Stars. The assets these scholars bring enrich our community, inspire us and make us hopeful for the future!” said Perla Myers, mathematics professor at USD and project lead.    

The project is a collaboration between Science, Mathematics and Engineering that will deepen the University of San Diego’s role of Anchor Institution by building on the structures from current and past NSF STEM projects, while strengthening, sustaining and enhancing community partnerships to empower local “Rising Stars.”

“The University of San Diego is proud of Dr. Myers and her team,” said Noelle Norton, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.  “I was with Dr. Myers at an Ocean Discovery Institute event when she conceived of a plan to anchor scholarships for STEM in local organizations. With perseverance and expertise in STEM education, the team will create a pipeline for talented underrepresented students in our region long into the future.”

Chell Roberts, dean of the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering, added, "I am so excited about our AnchorSTEM team who has just won this prestigious NSF award.  USD cares about our community and these scholarships and work will bring to us an incredible group of students who will make a difference in the future of behavioral neuroscience, biology, chemistry, computer science, engineering, environmental ocean science, physics and mathematics."

Community partners include: Ocean Discovery Institute, Barrio Logan College Institute, Reality Changers, Urban League Project Ready, MANA de San Diego, and High-Tech High Elevate.

About the University of San Diego

The University of San Diego sets the standard for an engaged, contemporary Catholic university where innovative Changemakers confront humanity’s urgent challenges. With more than 9,000 students from 69 countries and 50 states, USD is the youngest independent institution on the U.S. News & World Report list of top 100 universities in the United States. The university's eight academic divisions include the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Business, the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering, the School of Law, the School of Leadership and Education Sciences, the Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science, the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, and the Division of Professional and Continuing Education. USD's Envisioning 2024 strategic plan capitalizes on the university’s recent progress and aligns new strategic goals with current strengths to help shape a vision for the future as the university looks ahead to its 75th anniversary in the year 2024.


Lissette Martinez
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