UOG a partner in University of Hawaii’s $3.9 million grant to boost minority STEM graduates

Written by on October 3, 2018

The University of Guam is part of an alliance of 11 Pacific colleges and universities that was cumulatively awarded a $3.9 million grant to increase the number of underrepresented minority students — especially native Pacific islanders — who receive degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, otherwise known as STEM.

UOG will receive a disbursement of the grant, which was awarded to the University of Hawaii at Hilo through the National Science Foundation’s Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP), for a five-year project that will run from Sept. 1, 2018 – Aug. 31, 2023.

“As a recipient of funding through the University of Hawaii at Hilo’s grant, UOG is pleased to be able to grow our research capabilities and play an active role in building regional interest and success in the STEM fields,” said UOG President Thomas W. Krise. “When minority populations are engaged and supported to excel, the global population benefits as a whole.”

(From left) Cheryl R. Sangueza, assistant professor of secondary education at UOG, who will jointly lead research efforts in the Western Pacific for a segment of the grant; Thomas W. Krise, president of UOG and co-principal investigator for the grant; Rachael Leon Guerrero, interim director of Research and Sponsored Programs at UOG and member of the grant’s governing board; and Ross Miller, a professor of entomology at UOG who will serve as the LSAMP campus coordinator. (Photo courtesy of University of Guam)

The alliance — named the Islands of Opportunity Alliance — seeks not only to increase the number of STEM graduates in the Pacific, but also to investigate how cultural understandings in the Pacific impact those numbers. To do this, the alliance will conduct exploratory ethnographic interviews, focus group interviews, and surveys among the island communities of the alliance schools to understand the cross-cultural beliefs of success in STEM.

The results of the interviews will inform the design of effective STEM programs, curricula, and research opportunities for native Hawaiian and Pacific islander students at five universities (UOG, the University of Hawaii at Manoa, the University of Hawaii at Hilo, Chaminade University, and Hawaii Pacific University) and six community colleges (American Samoa Community College, College of the Marshall Islands, College of Micronesia – Federated States of Micronesia, Guam Community College, Northern Marianas College, and Palau Community College).

The grant is administered through UHH under the direction of Interim Chancellor Marcia Sakai. Krise will replace former UOG President Robert Underwood as a co-principal investigator for the grant. UOG’s Ross Miller, a professor of entomology, will serve as the LSAMP campus coordinator as UOG serves as a hub to coordinate research experiences across the various campuses.

“For several years, IOA-LSAMP has provided funds for undergraduate students to gain hands-on experience in the sciences by working with faculty mentors on original research projects,” Miller said. “Projects have ranged from looking at insecticide effects on snails to characterizing diatoms. We hope to expand the program in the future to include all of the STEM disciplines and encourage those in computer science, agriculture, chemistry, physics, and math to apply when the next round of internship opportunities is announced, probably later this semester.”

Rachael Leon Guerrero, interim director of Research and Sponsored Programs at UOG, is replacing former director John Peterson as a member of the governing board, and UOG’s Cheryl R. Sangueza, an assistant professor of secondary education, will partner with University of Hawaii at Hilo’s Tobias Irish, an assistant professor of education, in leading the research and interview efforts in the Western Pacific.

“I am currently a co-principal investigator on the UOG National Science Foundation INCLUDES grant, and our project offers STEM research experiences and mentoring to high school, undergraduate, and graduate participants,” Sangueza said. “I am very excited I now also get to work in partnership with fantastic people from UHH and our neighboring islands to continue to inspire and guide students in STEM learning experiences.”

Krise, Miller, Leon Guerrero, and Sangueza will be attending an “all-hands kick-off meeting” for grant stakeholders and key personnel scheduled for early next year.

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