Sioux City, Iowa – Morningside has received two National Science Foundation (NSF) grants totaling almost $1.3 million.
A $999,337 Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (S-STEM) grant will expand scholarships for Morningside STEM students from rural areas while integrating civic engagement opportunities into STEM curriculum, and a $299,359 Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (IUSE) grant will foster additional project-based learning in Morningside’s biology and chemistry programs.
“We had two dedicated teams of faculty who did an exceptional job with the application process for these two grants,” said Morningside College President John Reynders. “Both teams had innovative ideas. One focused on ideas central to our mission of civic responsibility, and the other team focused on broadening our experiential learning opportunities. Most importantly, both grants will keep students and student success at the heart of our work.”
Morningside was notified it had been awarded the grants in late December, with both going into effect Jan. 1, 2021. The S-STEM grant will end December 31, 2025, and the IUSE grant will end December 31, 2023. Work on the projects is already underway. The project teams will be rolling out more information in the coming weeks and months.
“These grants are not only rooted in our mission and work, but reflect our evolution from college to university. We are as dedicated as ever to pursuing excellence in all things as we officially transition to Morningside University, and that includes growing new opportunities for active learning and research,” said President Reynders.
S-STEM GRANT: “STEM-RELEVANT CIVIC ENGAGEMENT AND SERVICE AS A FOUNDATION TO PREPARE RURAL UNDERGRADUATES FOR STEM CAREERS”- $999,337
The NSF S-STEM grant will be used to investigate how student involvement in science-centric civic engagement activities embedded within STEM courses might contribute to increased retention in STEM disciplines, as well as increased dedication to civic responsibility. It will also provide scholarship dollars for STEM students from rural areas.
“The team had an innovative idea in their choice to examine the role of civic engagement in developing the identity of student scientists. By infusing civic responsibility within the STEM curriculum, this grant will allow our students to see themselves as engaged, problem-solving scientists who are ready to take on challenges while advancing science and the common good,” said Dr. Alden Stout, associate vice president for academic affairs and grants director.
Members of the S-STEM grant team include Dr. Anni Moore, principal investigator and assistant professor of biology; Dr. Mitch Keller, co-principal investigator and assistant professor of mathematics; Dr. Brian McFarland, co-principal investigator and associate professor of chemistry; Dr. Valerie Hennings, co-principal investigator and associate professor of political science; and Mr. Randy Campbell, senior personnel and professor of computer science.
IUSE GRANT: “INTEGRATING PROJECT- AND PLACE-BASED RESEARCH EXPERIENCES INTO GENERAL EDUCATION COURSES TO INCREASE PERSISTENCE OF FIRST-GENERATION AND RURAL UNDERGRADUATES IN STEM” – $299,359
The NSF IUSE grant Morningside received will result in a course sequence that will provide biology and chemistry students with project- and place-based learning opportunities in Siouxland.
During their first two years at Morningside, biology or chemistry students and faculty will partner with community businesses and organizations to design projects and share results that enhance learning within those fields of study while augmenting skills such as communication, quantitative reasoning, ethical analysis, critical thinking, and more. Potential research areas include water quality and availability, prairie restoration, or food safety.
“Drawing on the work of Project Siouxland, the team for this project has reimagined our general education curriculum to infuse project-based learning that will enhance scientific reasoning skills for biology or chemistry students. It builds upon the work we have already been doing with active learning while allowing us to expand experiential learning within Morningside’s two largest STEM majors,” said Stout.
Members of the IUSE grant team include Dr. Brian McFarland, principal investigator and associate professor of chemistry; Dr. Mitch Keller, co-principal investigator and assistant professor of mathematics; Dr. Chad Leugers, co-principal investigator and associate professor of biology; Dr. Timothy Sesterhenn, co-principal investigator and associate professor of biology; and Dr. Kim Christopherson, co-principal investigator and associate professor of education/education technologist.
Additional information about the grants will be available on Morningside’s social media channels and website in the coming months. Individuals considering Morningside and interested in the opportunities available through these grants are encouraged to speak to the Admissions Office, and those with other questions are encouraged to contact Academic Affairs.