Siena Heights News

Siena Heights Receives National Science Foundation STEM Grant

Siena Heights University was awarded a five-year grant totaling $641,751 from the National Science Foundation as part of the Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (S-STEM) program. Only five S-STEM grants have been awarded to universities in Michigan with start dates in 2018. Siena Heights is the only Michigan private university to be awarded this prestigious grant.

The project is entitled Siena Heights: Applying Psychological Constructs and Student Supports to Improve the Education of Students in STEM (SHAPE STEM). This project will award tuition scholarships totaling $400,000 over 5 years to 20 academically-talented students from low-income households who wish to major in biology, chemistry or environmental science at Siena Heights.

The program will especially target students with interests in non-medical STEM careers, and there is additional participant support to fund faculty-mentored student research projects and internships. 

“We are extremely pleased to receive this grant and would like to thank all who were involved in this process,” said SHU President Sister Peg Albert, OP, Ph.D. “To be the only private institution in Michigan to receive this grant in 2018 is quite an honor. We look forward to implementing this grant and educating future leaders in the STEM field. And we are excited to show what impact the ‘Siena Effect’ can have on these students.”

The grant identifies and addresses many of the barriers to success experienced by low-income and first-generation college students majoring in STEM disciplines. SHAPE STEM scholars in the program will study in living and learning communities, receive extensive faculty mentoring, participate in group research, and attend special SHAPE STEM seminars presented by experts in STEM fields.

The Siena Heights faculty grant team including Drs. Jun Tsuji (Principal Investigator), Heather Moody, Steve Wathen, Jeffrey Lindstrom and Patricia Rousselo have proposed a variety of recruitment and support services based upon the Unified Learning Model (ULM). They plan to evaluate the impact of these various strategies and services on student recruitment, persistence, graduation and career placement.

“This NSF support will help Siena Heights University recruit and educate the talented student scholars who will be able to address the environmental challenges related to sustainable food production, clean water, soil chemistry, air quality, chemical recycling, biodiversity and other ecological concerns that impact our social well-being and national security,” said Dr. Tsuji, chair of SHU’s Computing, Mathematics and Sciences Division.  “We believe that many of the ULM-based motivational supports will make a measurable and significant improvement in the success of students in difficult STEM disciplines. By disseminating our findings widely, we hope that these kinds of strategies and supports may be adapted and utilized by other higher educational institutions to improve STEM education across the nation.”

The project will commence in April 2018.

For more information about the grant or about Siena Heights University, contact the Office of Undergraduate Admissions at or

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