BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University has been awarded a $1.66 million, five-year grant from the Department of the Navy to develop a robust and innovative model to train diverse STEM researchers at IU, in partnership with an alliance of minority-serving institutions.

The initiative is aimed at strengthening the pipeline of graduates with the preparation and interest needed to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math by inspiring, engaging and educating the next generation of scientists and engineers.

IU’s minority-serving institutions STEM model will capitalize on existing strengths of the university’s STEM academic departments, including the addition of engineering degrees at IU Bloomington; the individuated nature of education at minority-serving institutions; an engaged, proactive faculty; and the university’s success in developing specialized research programs with diverse participants. 

James WimbushJames WimbushPhoto courtesy of Indiana University“The importance of preparing new talent for the STEM fields remains a national priority, and Indiana University is well-positioned to take a lead in developing a model that will expand student research opportunities as well as strengthen the future STEM workforce,” said lead project investigator James Wimbush, IU’s vice president for diversity, equity and multicultural affairs.

IU was selected by the Department of the Navy, in part, because of its successful STEM initiative with historically black colleges and universities. This initiative includes a partnership with 12 HBCUs, creating a pipeline that has increased the number of African-American students equipped to enter and succeed in graduate degree programs in STEM fields.

“A component of the initiative’s success is the STEM Summer Scholars Institute, an eight-week summer research program for high-ability students from our partner institutions,” said Jack Schmit, assistant dean of the University Graduate School and co-project investigator. “Indiana University’s HBCU STEM initiative will be used as the foundation for the MSI STEM model. The grant will allow us to maintain our current partner relationships while we fully develop the new model.”

Central pillars of the initiative include extending IU’s STEM alliance from 12 to 20 minority-serving institutions; creation of a Faculty Research Development Institute; support for faculty/student exchanges between IU core campuses and the partner minority institutions; development of faculty-student digital collaboration; and engagement of Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane Division researchers and laboratories to support minority and underrepresented student research opportunities.

"This program will provide an excellent opportunity for HBCUs and MIs to experience the importance of collaboration early in their scientific career,” said Anthony Smith, Department of the Navy HBCU/minority institutions program director. “As scientists and engineers, all of what we do and accomplish centers around working with a diverse team of individuals that possess vast areas of expertise. We, the DON HBCU/MI program, are excited about the IU-MSI STEM Initiative and are looking forward to years of success.”

Kirk White, IU assistant vice president and military liaison, said the initiative will significantly increase exposure of naval programs, research support and career opportunities to a broad range of students and faculty.

“This latest agreement builds on the long-standing partnership between Indiana University and NSWC Crane and works to encourage a diverse range of Hoosier students to pursue STEM careers while contributing to our national security,” he said.

“The creative research partnerships will have an impact for years after the grant concludes,” said co-project investigator Yolanda Treviño, assistant vice president for strategy, planning and assessment in the IU Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs. “Faculty productivity and multiple collaborations will be the game-changing solution that will have a far-reaching impact for all institutions and STEM education far into the future.”