Posts

SOU's Hala Schepmann is co-director of $1 million NSF grant project

SOU professor to co-direct $1 million NSF grant to advance women in STEM

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University chemistry professor Hala Schepmann will co-direct a five-year, $999,899 National Science Foundation project to support mid-career women faculty members nationwide in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

The project – Advancing STEM Careers by Empowering Network Development (ASCEND) – will focus in two directions. It will help individual faculty members advance their careers and also address systemic issues that prevent mid-career women from achieving full professorships and leadership positions in their disciplines and institutions.

Schepmann and co-directors from Willamette University, Western Oregon University and Gonzaga University in the Northwest; John Carroll University and University of Detroit Mercy in the Midwest; and Claflin University, Furman University and the Citadel in the Southeast will lead the project that will include as many as 75 participants. Colleges and universities in the three regions will collaborate to provide educational opportunities, training resources and professional support.

The NSF grant to support the project began this month and will run through September of 2024.

“The ASCEND project aims to both develop women leaders among faculty and enable university administrators to remove systemic and institution-specific barriers to support the advancement of a diverse STEM faculty,” Schepmann said. “Professional development trainings will focus on self-advocacy, collaboration, leadership, change implementation, conflict resolution and negotiation.”

The grant is part of the NSF’s ADVANCE program, which is intended to increase the representation and advancement of women faculty members in STEM fields. It is part of the NSF’s strategy to broaden participation in the STEM workforce. The NSF has invested more than $270 million in ADVANCE projects at over 100 institutions nationwide since 2001.

The ASCEND project that Schepmann is co-directing is one of two prestigious NSF grants announced this fall that have SOU faculty members in leadership roles. A two-year, $299,000 NSF grant to develop the “computational thinking” skills of kindergarten-through-fifth-grade students is being led by Eva Skuratowicz, an adjunct professor of sociology and anthropology, and director of the SOU Research Center (SOURCE).

“I couldn’t be more pleased that Dr. Schepmann received this grant,” said Susan Walsh, SOU’s provost and vice president for academic affairs. “This award acknowledges Hala’s substantial commitment to increasing the advancement of women in science, and paves the way for SOU to continue to make a significant contribution to this important work.”

Co-directors of the ASCEND project will lead the creation of peer mentoring networks in each of the project’s three regions. Members of the networks will meet online each month and in-person once per year to collectively identify barriers to their professional advancement and strategies to address them.

Each regional network will be made up of one administrator “alliance” made up of four or five academic leaders and five faculty “alliances,” each aligned with a STEM-specific academic discipline and made up of four or five members.

“In collaboration with faculty, administrators will strategically design and implement comprehensive campus-specific change plans that reduce barriers encountered by women in STEM fields, create more equitable communities and foster the retention and advancement of a diverse STEM faculty population,” the project’s written summary says.

The project is intended to establish a “critical mass” of change and precipitate reforms that benefit women in STEM fields throughout U.S. higher education.

More information is available on the ASCEND program website.

-SOU-

SOU Computer Science Building

SOU-led team receives NSF grant to develop “computational thinking” model

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University has been awarded a two-year, $299,000 National Science Foundation grant to develop the “computational thinking” skills of kindergarten-through-fifth-grade students in the Ashland and Phoenix-Talent school districts.

The grant is part of the NSF’s Computer Science for All program, which is intended to extend computer science and computational thinking opportunities to all K-12 students in the U.S. Curriculum developed by SOU-led researchers, in partnership with teachers in the two school districts, will be intended for use in schools nationwide.

“It’s critical for students to learn computational thinking skills during their early years of elementary school,” said lead researcher Eva Skuratowicz, director of the Southern Oregon University Research Center (SOURCE). “That gives them the confidence to continue their learning in fields such as science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).”

Computational thinking is the articulation of problems and solutions in logical, computer-like ways. Those skills enable people to decompose problems, identify patterns and design answers.

“CT solutions have evolved from general problem-solving skills because of advances in technology that have changed both the nature of problems that need to be solved and our ability to solve them,” said Maggie Vanderberg, an associate professor of computer science at SOU and research team member for the NSF project.

The two-year project, “Empowering K-5 Teachers in Southern Oregon Through CT,” will begin in October. For the first year, researchers and a small group of educators will work side-by-side to develop and assess CT classroom strategies. During the second year, a total of 16 local teachers – two each from the Phoenix-Talent School District’s Orchard Hill, Phoenix and Talent elementary schools, and the Ashland School District’s Bellview, John Muir, Helman, Walker and Willow Wind elementary schools – will be chosen to collaborate on the project.

Skuratowicz and her research team were awarded the highly competitive NSF grant on their third attempt. Their proposal has been developed over the past four years in collaboration with the two local school districts.

“It is a great honor for SOU to be chosen by the National Science Foundation to lead this important and far-reaching project,” said SOU Provost Susan Walsh, the university’s chief academic officer. “This is a tribute not only to the tenacity of the research team, but to the sense of collaboration that drives our university.”

Eping Hung, a computing teacher at Ashland’s Willow Wind Elementary School, has helped to develop the grant project, along with Gladys Krause from Virginia’s William and Mary College and Joseph Wilson from the American Institutes for Research.

-SOU-

Women STEM faculty selected for NSF ADVANCE program

SPOKANE, Wash., March 21, 2012 – Two women faculty from Southern Oregon University have been selected from an outstanding pool of applicants to participate in the National Science Foundation ADVANCE project “Advancing the Careers of Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics at Predominantly Undergraduate Institutions through Professional Networks” (ASAP). The faculty are:

  • Carol Ferguson, Professor, Biology
  • Hala Schepmann, Associate Professor, Chemistry

Read more

SOU Receives Grant to Upgrade Biotechnology Research Center

Karen Stone

(Ashland, Ore)  Southern Oregon University Associate Professor of Biology Karen Stone (right) has received a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant through the Academic Research Infrastructure: Recovery and Reinvestment program for “Reinvigorating Biotechnology at Southern Oregon University.” The award was funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
The $218,786 grant will be used to modernize the lab space in the Biotechnology Research Center where undergraduate students learn how to use molecular methods in research projects. Improvements include the modernization of the Center, installation of a fume hood, DNA extraction room, microscopy space and vacuum lines with HEPA filtration.
“This grant will allow SOU faculty and students the opportunity to engage in cutting-edge research,” says Professor Stone. “The Biotechnology Research Center is a key reason that SOU biology and chemistry students are successful in gaining admission to top-notch graduate and professional programs.”
Collaborators on the proposal include Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Alissa Arp, Associate Professor of Chemistry Gregory Miller, and Emeritus Professor of Biology Darlene Southworth.