STEM scholars at Metropolitan State University of Denver will begin to benefit from a $1 million Building Identity Leading to Diversity (BUILD) grant in June. The funds come from the National Science Foundation and are dedicated to bolstering minority students’ STEM access and opportunities at MSU Denver and Community College of Denver through May 2025.
“I encountered many students who lack confidence and have impostor syndrome, need financial support and lack knowledge navigating higher-education systems,” said Hsiu-Ping Liu, Ph.D., the grant’s principal investigator and director of the Center for Advanced STEM Education. “I recognized that comprehensive (wraparound) support is the key to our students’ success. This project is born out of that realization.”
Providing comprehensive support customized to the needs of underserved populations is a shared goal of MSU Denver and CCD, which are Hispanic-Serving Institutions. Additionally, the institutions share common STEM learning spaces on the Auraria Campus, making them an ideal pairing for the NSF grant. Two new collaborations enabled by the BUILD grant include summer bridge programming and an inter-institutional “Foundation of STEM Research” course.
BUILD will provide multiple pathways for students to enter majors in science, technology, engineering and math; develop STEM identity through Competence, Performance, Recognition and Transformative Co-Curricular Engagement; and prepare STEM majors to enter graduate programs and/or STEM careers.
“Research shows that a positive, strong and resilient STEM identity can translate into greater success for minority students,” said Liu. “Partnership with CCD creates a robust conduit of potential STEM majors entering into MSU Denver and an opportunity to begin building STEM identity.”
The BUILD team includes:
- Nursen Konuk, Ph.D., assistant professor, Mathematics and Statistics
- Rob Niemeyer, Ph.D., assistant professor, Mathematics and Statistics
- Manny Del Real, Ph.D., executive director of HSI Initiatives, Office of Diversity and Inclusion
- Bridgette Coble, Ph.D., director of Career Engagement, Classroom to Career Hub
- Kristy Duran, Ph.D., director, Undergraduate Research and Creative Scholarship
- Linda Sivertson, program manager, Center for Advanced STEM Education
- Fida Obeidi, Ph.D., dean, CCD Center for Health and Natural Sciences
BUILD aims to make a substantial impact on equitable STEM education at MSU Denver by also leveraging wide-ranging camp support from Provost Alfred Tatum, Ph.D.; Will Simpkins, Ed.D., vice president for Student Affairs; Michael Benitez, Ph.D., vice president for Diversity and Inclusion; Elizabeth Parmelee, Ph.D., associate vice president of Undergraduate Studies; John Masserini, DMA, dean of the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences; and many more.