NSF Grant to Support UNCW’s Research Efforts in the Marine Sciences with First-Year Students

Monday, July 13, 2020

A collaborative team of UNCW researchers have been awarded a three-year grant from the National Science Foundation for $388,000 to support summer undergraduate research opportunities for first-year students who aspire to work in the marine sciences.

Starting summer 2021, faculty members Nathan Grove (professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and director of CSURF); Jess Boersma (associate dean for student success, policy and undergraduate scholarship and director of applied learning); Shawn Bingham (associate dean of undergraduate studies and director of Honors College); Martin Posey (professor in the Department of Biology and Marine Biology); Chris Finelli (dean of the Graduate School, executive director of marine sciences and professor in the Department of Biology and Marine Biology); and William Sterrett (associate professor in the Watson College of Education and associate dean of teacher education and outreach) will bring a cohort of 10 students to campus to spend 10 weeks conducting research alongside them.

“This project embodies the essence of what UNCW does best – provide authentic applied learning and research opportunities for students,” said Grove, who is the principal investigator. “This grant will provide significant funding to support cohorts of first-year, underrepresented students as they learn more about what it means to be a scientist and engage in cutting-edge research with our talented faculty members.”

All research will be broadly focused on the marine sciences and involve interdisciplinary teams of students and faculty working together on UNCW’s main campus, the Center for Marine Science, and D.C. Virgo Preparatory Academy, a K-8 year-round public school that was opened by UNCW in July 2018.

Unlike other Research Experiences for Undergraduates programs that focus on more senior undergraduate students, Grove says this is unique in that it specifically focuses on first-year students from underrepresented populations. 

Towards the conclusion of the 10-week experience, the students will work with Sterrett and the staff at D.C. Virgo to prepare classroom materials for students that highlight the results of their research, laying the foundation for the would-be future scientists to communicate and translate their work to broader audiences.

-- Caroline Cropp