Professors in the College of Arts, Sciences, Business and Education of Winston-Salem State University have received $1,181,744 in grants to support projects that can positively impact student education and success through undergraduate research efforts.
Dr. Corey D.B. Walker
“The funding from these grants will enable WSSU to provide our undergraduate students with unique research opportunities that will enhance their educational experience,” said Dr. Corey D. B. Walker, dean of The College. “Each of these projects is aligned with the new and bold science endeavors that are part of WSSU’s strategic plan and new science effort. This Transformative Science Initiative is designed to facilitate the integration of student academic success, faculty teaching and research excellence.”
The Minority Access to Research Careers for Undergraduate Student Training in Academic Research (MARC U*STAR) program has received $151,351 in funding that is renewable annually for five years for a total of $756,755 from the National Institutes of Health. The grant will allow WSSU to continue this program that trains students from underrepresented groups to hold leadership positions in cutting-edge scientific research.
“Students from various majors including biology, chemistry, psychology and exercise science receive extensive hands-on laboratory research experiences that strengthen their academic and research credentials,” said Dr. Azeez Aileru, a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences and director of the university’s Biomedical Research Infrastructure Center who will continue to serve as the principal investigator for the grant. “Students are then better prepared for high caliber graduate training at the Ph.D. level in biomedical and behavioral research.”
Dr. Maria Ngu-Schwemlein, a chemistry professor, will serve as the principal investigator for a $399,989 grant from the National Science Foundation to enhance undergraduate research experiences in the chemistry curriculum. This targeted infusion project will lay the foundation for effective research skills that will ultimately promote student success by adapting high impact and evidence-based educational practices.
“This grant will support a collaborative effort by a team of chemistry faculty to strengthen undergraduate research skills to help students navigate the challenges in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) research and also to increase retention and success of minority students in the chemical sciences,” said Ngu-Schwemlein.
The university also received a $25,000 grant from the Thurgood Marshall College Fund to determine the types of undergraduate research experiences that lead to student retention and graduation in STEAM fields, which incorporates art and design into the traditional STEM areas as a catalyst for new technologies and discoveries. Dr. Johanna Porter-Kelly, associate professor of biological sciences, will be working with Dr. Vanessa Duren-Winfield, assistant professor of healthcare management and director of research in the WSSU School of Health Sciences, to engage students in the STEAM pipeline that are often overlooked for research opportunities. Students enrolled in the project will be Thurgood Marshall Fellows.
“These students will be engaged in research training related to the sickle cell trait with additional emphasis on training in research methodology and working with human subjects,” Porter-Kelley explained. “The combination of conducting experiments and clinical research will lead to an interdisciplinary project that promotes teamwork and collaboration working across STEAM disciplines.”