Dr. James Hawker, Dr. Lindsay Byron, Dr. Daniel Sanches, and June WeyraughAVON PARK, Fla. – May 17, 2024 – Through a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), South Florida State College (SFSC), in partnership with the University of Florida (UF), will be able to broaden Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) participation and support critical transitions for Hispanic students as a way to improve STEM attainment at SFSC.

The NSF is an independent agency of the United States federal government that supports research and education in all non-medical fields of science and engineering. The agency has awarded $300,000 to SFSC and UF. Those grant monies became available for two years as of May 1, 2024.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, colleges and universities were required to offer STEM courses and laboratory experiences through remote instruction. The crisis revealed challenges within emergency remote instruction in lab science education but presented new opportunities to present high-quality online STEM education. With this grant, SFSC faculty will identify high-demand courses in which they see students struggle the most. Instructional designers from UF, who specifically focus on online education, will work closely with SFSC faculty to look at course assignments, learning outcomes, objectives, and student evaluations of instructions. Then, they will make recommendations to faculty on how to improve or enhance online instruction in each science course or lab.

SFSC science faculty began offering students research projects in 2016 and, today, students in the sciences participate in an annual Undergraduate Research Showcase at SFSC to present their research. More importantly, SFSC students have made presentations at undergraduate and professional science conferences across the country. Many students have won awards for their research. Through the NSF grant, College faculty would like to expand on these opportunities for its students and incorporate research into current courses.

“We are thrilled to be awarded our joint NSF grant with the University of Florida to improve undergraduate STEM education in a Hispanic-serving institution,” said Dr. James Hawker, SFSC dean of arts and sciences. “Making use of the instructional design expertise of University of Florida faculty and staff, this grant should greatly help us improve both online and in-person teaching of science classes and labs to serve our students. We will also have resources to expand undergraduate research for students, which vastly improves their engagement and learning in science subject matter.”

For more information about undergraduate research at SFSC, email Dr. Hawker at james.hawker@southflorida.edu or call 863-784-7329.


Photo: Dr. James Hawker (left), SFSC dean of arts and sciences; Dr. Lindsay Byron, UF clinical assistant professor and LEAD Ed.D. program coordinator and acting HDOSE graduate coordinator; Dr. Daniel Sanches, SFSC chair, Natural Sciences, and Biology instructor; and June Weyrauch, SFSC Grant Development and Federal Relations coordinator.