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Oklahoma State University

OSU Researchers Receive National Science Foundation Grant

Monday, December 18, 2017

Nicole Colston and Sue JacobsThe National Science Foundation (NSF) recently awarded Oklahoma State University professor Sue Jacobs $99,998 for a project that will study the interest of Native Americans to pursue and persist in engineering faculty positions.  The two-year Early-concept Grant for Exploratory Research (EAGER) is awarded by the NSF Division of Engineering Education and Centers (EEC).

This project, “An Exploratory Study Pinpointing the Factors that Influence Native Americans Interests and Aspirations for Engineering Faculty Positions,” will address factors that influence Native Americans’ preparation for and participation in the engineering professorate. Because engineering faculty are crucial to attracting and retaining engineering students, it is important to understand why Native Americans are underrepresented in engineering fields. Faculty members provide positive socio-cultural experiences, mentorship and inclusive learning environments that reduce isolation.

“Little is known about the factors promoting Native Americans' entry into the engineering professorate or persistence as engineering faculty members,” Jacobs said. “We hope to develop a deeper understanding of the role of barriers and supports in regards to opting into a faculty role in engineering. This could lead to best practices in providing Native Americans with experiences and support to encourage them to pursue the engineering faculty careers.”

Jacobs, Professor in the School of Community Health Sciences, Counseling and Counseling Psychology, is the principal investigator (PI) conducting research in collaboration with researchers at the University of Minnesota, including Dr. Sherri Turner (co-PI) and Gale Mason-Chagil. Nicole Colston, OSU Research Assistant Professor in the School of Teaching, Learning and Educational Sciences, is Senior Personnel for the project.  The Center for Research on STEM Teaching and Learning (CRSTL), housed in the College of Education, Health and Aviation, will facilitate the project by providing graduate research assistants, office and meeting space and secure data storage facilities.

“This project will advance the NSF societal outcome of full participation of women, persons with disabilities and underrepresented minorities in STEM fields,” Colston said. “Cultivating the talent and promoting full inclusion of Native Americans in the engineering professorate can promote diversity in the workforce to encourage the growth, creativity and innovation necessary to solving our most pressing tribal, national and global problems.”