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NSF grant to support students in STEM programs


Illinois College has been awarded a $646,028 Access to Early Research Opportunities in STEM (AERO-STEM) grant by the National Science Foundation.

The grant will provide support for 16 academically-talented, low-income students earning degrees in biology, chemistry, biochemistry and physics. Incoming students across two cohorts will be selected for the program and provided with annual scholarships based on the cost of attendance, typical sources of financial aid and each student’s remaining financial needs. 

Illinois College President Barbara A. Farley said she is grateful to the National Science Foundation for recognizing the strength of IC’s innovative STEM programs with the competitive grant.

“This funding will transform the lives of deserving Illinois College students. I am confident that the experiences they have at Illinois College will prepare them to become leaders in their communities and professions,” she said.

Grant funds will also advance Illinois College’s efforts toward the recruitment, retention, graduation and career success of these high-achieving students as they prepare for professional success in STEM fields. The grant will provide mentorship programs, student-faculty research opportunities, summer programs, career assistance and access to outside research projects. 

Congressman Darin LaHood, who represents the 18th congressional district of Illinois, announced the grant award Friday, stating, “Students who work hard and do well in school deserve an opportunity to pursue a higher education regardless of their background and this commitment from the National Science Foundation will ensure low-income students in our community get that chance.” 

He also congratulated Illinois College, adding, “This award is a testament to the great work being done by President Farley and her faculty and this funding will empower them to continue providing a high-quality education to those in our community, particularly in STEM programs.”

Several Illinois College faculty will play a role in implementing the objectives of the grant on campus. Among them, Dr. Miranda Karban, assistant professor of biology, will serve as the principal investigator, and Dr. Jocelyn Lanorio, assistant professor of chemistry, and Dr. Bryan Arnold, assistant professor of biology, will serve as co-principal investigators. 

About Illinois College

Founded in 1829, Illinois College is a residential liberal arts college fostering academic excellence rooted in opportunities for experiential learning while preparing students for lifelong success. The college is located in Jacksonville, Illinois. With an enrollment of more than 1,000 students, the college offers over 50 undergraduate programs. In 1932 the society of Phi Beta Kappa established a chapter at Illinois College, and it remains one of only 11 in the state.

Illinois College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association.

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