On Wednesday, Spelman College announced that the university is set to receive a $5.7 million grant from the Simons Foundation to support faculty in science and mathematics.
The grant will pay half the salaries of 10 STEM faculty members allowing them to spend more of their time conducting research and providing research opportunities to students.
“The Simons Foundation is hoping to help Spelman address the disparity in the experience of its faculty compared to that of most other research institutions,” says David Spergel, president of the Simons Foundation. “This differential in the Spelman faculty experience not only slows its faculty’s career development, it denies students the opportunity to participate in research themselves during their undergraduate years.”
According to the university, Spelman’s faculty members often shoulder greater teaching loads than typical top research universities, while also investing a great deal of time in mentoring Spelman’s students, which limits the amount of time faculty are able to devote to research.
“Thank you to the Simons Foundation for your generous support which will help our science and mathematics faculty strike a more optimal balance between their teaching responsibilities and research goals,” said Helene Gayle, M.D., M.P.H., president of Spelman College. “As the #1 producer of Black women with PhDs in STEM, this is a gift that will keep on giving through the enrichment of our students’ STEM studies experience.”
The National Science Foundation ranks Spelman as the top producer of Black women who go on to earn doctorates in STEM fields, and the college said it’s trying to double the number of graduates who eventually earn doctorates.
The Simons Foundation grant will not only benefit faculty but allow students to participate in research projects during the academic year to further advance their success in STEM fields and graduate study.
Priority funding will go to researchers in areas that align with the grantmaking interests of the Simons Foundation, which include mathematics, physics, and computational within the natural sciences.
The grant will also provide faculty members with funding for supplies, publications, and travel expenses to attend conferences and to join other Simons Foundation investigators at annual meetings at the foundation.
A central goal is to foster connections between Spelman researchers and the other researchers supported by the Simons Foundation.
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