Published on February 26, 2015  

Samford University has received a five-year National Science Foundation (NSF) grant of $620,520 for a program to help academically talented and financially-at-risk transfer students from local community colleges complete Samford degrees in the fields of biology, environmental science, chemistry and biochemistry. 

The STEM Scholars program will recruit the first of three cohorts of 10-12 students by mid-March. Selections will be made on the basis of academic achievement, unmet financial need and potential for success in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers. Like Samford’s Minority Youth Science Institute for high school students, the STEM Scholars program also seeks to increase the participation of underrepresented and underserved groups in those careers. 

“One of our goals is to expand the groups who see Samford University and STEM careers as accessible, including minority students, first generation college students, military veterans, and a broad range of underrepresented individuals,” said program coordinator Betsy Dobbins, Paul N. Propst Professor of Natural Sciences in the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences.  

Samford ranks third in the South in undergraduate teaching, and strongly emphasizes undergraduate research, mentoring and professional preparation. The STEM Scholars program will further encourage those values through activities co-hosted with Jefferson State Community College and Lawson State Community College. STEM Scholars will benefit from joint research symposia, combined honor and professional society meetings, shared seminar and speaker series, and faculty exchanges. They also will be eligible for Samford’s other STEM-related undergraduate research grants and programs. 

In addition to a robust support network including preparation seminars, academic and vocational guidance and peer mentors, the STEM Scholars will have financial support for tuition and fees. Samford will match NSF contributions up to $10,000 per Scholar and contribute to any further unmet needs based on academic qualifications. 

In addition to Dobbins, program leadership and support for the STEM Scholars program will include Jason Black, dean of admission; Charlotte Brammer, Department of Communication Studies; Malia Fincher, Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences; Morgan Ponder, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry; and  Bridget Rose, director, Academic Success Center. 

For program information, contact

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.