Rollins Faculty Receive Inclusivity in STEM Learning Grant

June 16, 2021

By Stephanie Rizzo ’09

The grant will go toward funding a variety of interdisciplinary programs focused on better serving marginalized students who wish to pursue STEM degrees, both at Rollins and beyond.

Brandon McNichol ’19 and chemistry professor Kasandra Riley conduct an experiment in the lab.
Photo by Scott Cook.

Rollins has been awarded a $30,000 grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) to become part of its Inclusive Excellence 3 Learning Community (IE3LC) initiative. The award comes after a lengthy process of self-study to identify barriers and build capacity for inclusion in STEM education.

Participation in the IE3LC will allow a dedicated team of Rollins STEM faculty, led by chemistry professor Kasandra Riley, to collaboratively develop inclusive, equitable, and anti-racist approaches to introductory science courses and become part of a community of similar institutions working together to implement these ideas and strategies across the country. Additional faculty team leaders include biology professors Jay Pieczynski, Sabrice Guerrier, and Brendaliz Santiago-Narvaez, computer science professor Dan Myers, physics professor Anne Murdaugh, and chemistry professors Ellane Park and Brian Mosby.

One of the first projects is the creation of a student advisory panel in fall 2021, where a group of students will assemble to develop more equitable scientific practices. Using a data-driven approach, the group will advise faculty as they update the curriculum for the biology and chemistry departments. Thanks to the newly acquired funding, students will be compensated for their time and research.

The goal of the HHMI Inclusive Excellence initiative is to encourage colleges and universities to build their capacity for the inclusion of all students, especially those who have been historically excluded from science. An essential element of this inclusive stance is a commitment to dismantling institutional structural racism.

Rollins is one of 108 colleges and universities around the country that has been selected to participate in the new IE3LC Initiative. HHMI intends for the work undertaken over the next year within these selected learning communities to lead to the second phase of program development and funding, with those awards beginning as early as fall 2022.

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