UNA Pressroom

UNA Spearheads Tri-State Alliance with a Record $2.5 Million NSF Grant for STEM Education

Sep. 28, 2023

Michelle R. Eubanks , UNA, at meubanks@una.edu, 256.765.4392

FLORENCE, AL – The University of North Alabama has been awarded $2,497,206 from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to spearhead a tri-state alliance to expand and diversify the number of STEM baccalaureate graduates to meet growing workforce demands in the region. 

In addition to UNA, the Tri-State Alliance includes the University of Tennessee-Martin, Mississippi University for Women, and Northwest-Shoals Community College. This is UNA’s inaugural NSF LSAMP grant and the most substantial award it has received to date. 

In 2021, upon securing an initial planning grant from NSF, the UNA team worked with its partner institutions to craft a competitive grant proposal. 

“Typical planning phases involve significant face-to-face interactions among alliance members,” said Dr. Amber Paulk, UNA’s Deputy Provost and Sociology Professor. “The pandemic posed unexpected challenges; however, our alliance’s determination and adaptability were rewarded. We secured the grant on our first attempt, which underscores our collective commitment and unified vision.” 

Dr. Paulk is among the key personnel on the team at UNA; she is joined by Dr. Candice Quinn, Assistant Professor of Mathematics; and Dr. Molly Mathis, Director of the Office of Institutional Research. Additional collaboration and consultation was provided by Dr. Carmen Burkhalter, Dean Emeritus of the College of Arts, Sciences, and Engineering at UNA. 

The grant’s primary goal is to bolster graduation rates for Underrepresented Minority Students (URMs) in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics baccalaureate programs by supporting students who may be underprepared for foundational math and science courses at the collegiate level. 

“Students facing challenges in these in these pivotal subjects have a tougher path to success,” said Dr. Quinn. “The Tri-State Alliance will offer robust support mechanisms for these students,

including a Summer Bridge Program, peer tutoring, and faculty mentorship in order to promote student success and persistence to graduation.” 

The regional nature of the alliance also has far-reaching implications for the number of students who would have an opportunity to be affected with these programs and, in turn, could support STEM jobs in the future. 

“We recognize the significance of cultivating STEM professionals from the tri-state region and addressing our area’s workforce demands while promoting greater representation and inclusivity in STEM,” said Dr. Katie Kinney, Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. “This initiative stands as yet another testament to UNA’s unwavering commitment to workforce development and regional advancement.”

About The University of North Alabama

The University of North Alabama is an accredited, comprehensive regional state university offering credential, certificate, baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral programs in the colleges of Arts, Sciences, and Engineering; Business and Technology; Education and Human Sciences; and the Anderson College of Nursing and Health Professions. The first-choice University for more than 10,000 on-campus and online students, UNA is on a bucolic campus in Florence, Alabama, part of the historic and vibrant Shoals region. Lions Athletics, a renowned collegiate athletics program with seven (7) Division II National Championships, is now a proud member of the NCAA Division I’s ASUN Conference. The University of North Alabama is an equal opportunity institution and does not discriminate in the admission policy on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, disability, age, or national origin. For more: www.una.edu and www.una.edu/unaworks/