Livingstone College receives $2.24M STEM grant, largest in college history

Grant will create “Livingwell@Livingstone”
Donna McNair, dean of the Division of Mathematics and Science, is shown inside the college’s...
Donna McNair, dean of the Division of Mathematics and Science, is shown inside the college’s new state-of-the-art planetarium.(Livingstone College)
Published: Oct. 19, 2021 at 4:00 PM EDT
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SALISBURY, N.C. (WBTV) - Livingstone College has received $2.24 million from the National Science Foundation, the largest single grant received in the history of the college.

According to a news release, the grant will fund a program called “Livingwell@Livingstone,” a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) innovation ecosystem to enhance persistence, retention and graduation rates in underrepresented minority students.

“Livingwell@Livingstone” will create opportunities, as early as freshman year, for students to explore the commercial potential of research and how it addresses community challenges. The program will leverage partnerships with community science entrepreneurs to create a “Science Mastermind,” providing tools and resources to expand bench research into the entrepreneurial space.

Using a convergent research design, the project advances the capability to meet current and future challenges of food production/accessibility, renewable energy and artificial intelligence, said Dawn McNair, dean of the Division of Mathematics and Science and principal investigator of the project. In addition, it will provide a collegial support structure to share wins, set goals, and solve peer challenges related to the STEM student experience.

“We are excited about the opportunity to implement ‘Livingwell@Livingstone.’ This project will equip students with the needed skills to meet the STEM workforce demand and be valuable contributors to the future of scientific enterprise,” McNair said.

The award comes just as Livingstone College is poised to occupy its new 16,000-square-foot F. George Shipman Science Annex. The annex will feature dedicated laboratory/research spaces for microbiology, human anatomy/physiology, biochemistry and general chemistry, with smaller laboratory spaces for specialized research and a tissue culture lab.

One of the significant highlights of the new annex is the planetarium/immersion theater with SciDome IQ 2400 technology, where students have a virtual-reality experience in human anatomy, physics, astronomy and earth science.

In addition to the planetarium, the annex includes a SCALE-UP classroom that facilitates active and collaborative learning, and a hydroponic greenhouse.

“This new space provides a state-of-the art environment to support ‘Livingwell@Livingstone’ and opportunities to engage with the community,” McNair said.

“This grant is fundamental in support of our renewed focus on the STEM curriculum,” said Livingstone President Dr. Jimmy R. Jenkins, Sr. “We are grateful to the National Science Foundation for this historic and generous grant award, and for their investment in Livingstone College.”

Black student enrollment in STEM fields are declining. The proportion of bachelor’s degrees in science awarded to black graduates remained flat at about 9 percent from 2001 to 2016, according to the most recent figures from the National Science Foundation. In engineering, it declined from 5 percent to 4 percent; and in math, it dropped from 7 percent to 4 percent.

In response to that, Livingstone College is offering grant-in-aid to any new student who chooses a STEM major, meaning their education is free after federal financial aid is considered.

“We are intentional in creating concreate solutions to assist students who are interested in these majors by making college affordable,” Jenkins said. “Furthermore, this grant will provide our STEM students with research opportunities and experience that will position them to be more marketable post-graduation for viable employment in their field.”

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