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Faculty Win National Science Foundation Grant to Improve STEM Opportunities

September 09, 2021

Three Angelo State University faculty members have been awarded a $199,597 grant by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to fund a two-year project aimed at increasing the recruitment and retention of students in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, particularly students from historically under-represented populations.

Dr. Nicole Lozano and Dr. Kyle van Ittersum of the psychology faculty and Dr. Paul Swets, dean of the College of Science and Engineering, received the NSF grant for their project titled “HSI Planning Project: Integrative Undergraduate STEM Education at Angelo State University (I-USE ASU).”

Dr. Paul Swets Dr. Paul Swets“This is a terrific opportunity for Angelo State University and the Ram Fam,” Swets said. “As we build on Angelo State’s Core Values, this grant will provide significant opportunities to increase our diversity and inclusion, our significance and our community, as we work to open the pipeline of STEM students our state needs and build out the programming our economy requires. We look forward to going together as Rams in recruiting, retaining and graduating Angelo State STEM students.”

The ASU team will conduct research with K-12 and undergraduate ASU students and faculty to explore what motivates students to pursue STEM degrees – and the issues that may divert them from persisting through to graduation.

Dr. Nicole Lozano Dr. Nicole LozanoOnce the research phase is completed, the team will collaborate with the ASU College of Science and Engineering Advisory Board to evaluate ASU’s readiness to implement the recruiting and retention strategies formulated through their research.

Upon completion of the two-year project, the ASU team’s intention is to apply for follow-up funding opportunities under the NSF’s Improving Undergraduate STEM Education: Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI) Program to fully implement the new strategies.

Angelo State has been designated a Hispanic Serving Institution by the U.S. Department of Education since 2010. For the 2020-21 academic year, ASU’s Hispanic enrollment rose to an all-time high of 39.94%.

Swets joined the ASU faculty in 1998. He is also a professor of mathematics and previously served as head of the Department of Mathematics. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Texas.

Dr. Kyle van Ittersum Dr. Kyle van IttersumAn associate professor of psychology, van Ittersum joined the ASU faculty in 2015. He primarily teaches graduate courses in the Master of Science in industrial/organizational psychology degree program, as well as general undergraduate psychology courses. He holds a Ph.D. in industrial/organizational psychology from Kansas State University.

Lozano is an assistant professor of psychology who joined the ASU faculty in 2017. She primarily teaches graduate courses in counseling psychology and undergraduate courses in general and social psychology. She holds a Ph.D. in educational psychology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.