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ASU faculty receive $2.3 million NSF grant for environmental, molecular biosciences

June 25, 2008 -- In June, Arkansas State University was awarded a grant of $2.3 million over the next 5 years by the National Science Foundation (NSF) for a proposal drafted by ASU faculty, “GK12: Environmental Sciences and Molecular Biosciences in the Natural State.

The proposal was drafted by professors Dr. Alan D. Christian (associate professor of zoology), Dr. Anne Grippo (associate professor of biology), Dr. Cynthia A. Miller (Center for Excellence in Education; director, the Northeast Arkansas Delta Institute for Math and Science), Dr. James Tillman Kennon (associate professor of science education), and Dr. Robyn E. Hannigan (professor of geochemistry and environmental science; director, Environmental Sciences Graduate Program). Dr. Christian will serve as the GK12 program director.

The funds provided by this award will include support for the NSF Graduate Teaching Fellows in K-12 Education (GK-12) in accordance with NSF program 07-555.

The grant will run through April 2009. The initial monies for the first year of the grant totaled $445,082, with the bulk of the grant being paid out through April 2009.

The focused theme of the program is “Land Use, Land Cover, and Biodiversity in the Mississippi Embayment."  The theme was developed based on Environmental Sciences Graduate Program faculty research that addresses regional biodiversity across ecosystems and organisms.

The program places 8 doctoral-level NSF Graduate Teaching Fellows per year in five east Arkansas schools to teach 6th – 8th grade students lessons based on the Fellow’s research and state and national standards.

The goals of the program are: 1) to improve Fellows’ skills in communicating science to a broad audience while gaining a deeper understanding of their own research; 2) to improve or enhance teachers’ knowledge and experience; 3) to pique students’ interest in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) and STEM careers while exposing students to an enriched STEM environment; and 4) to strengthen partnerships between ASU and school districts.

Intellectual merit and broader impacts of the proposal include: 1) Fellows maintaining links with 6-8th grade classrooms, 2) enhancing student exposure to and interest in STEM and STEM careers, 3) teachers being better trained, and 4) linkages between higher education and school districts being strengthened and becoming more accessible, especially to underserved populations.

For additional information, contact Dr. Alan Christian at (870) 972-3296 or e-mail




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