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New Program to Prepare Students for Academic, Career Success in STEM Fields

March 9, 2022
Photo by Veronica Androver

The new UC Merced Bobcat STEM Scholars Program, funded by a $1.4 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), will provide four years of scholarship support for up to 10 eligible incoming students per year who declare majors within the university’s School of Natural Sciences (SNS).

“The goal of the program is to help talented undergraduate students with high financial need prepare for future studies in graduate school and/or STEM careers,” said Molecular and Cellular Biology Teaching Professor Petra Kranzfelder. “This includes providing peer and faculty mentoring, early access to research opportunities, related enrichment activities and a substantial four-year scholarship.”

The four-year program provides students with $8,000 a year, involvement in a community of scholars through a first-year of Living Learning Community to enhance in-class and out-of-class experiences, Spark Seminars and access to a group of dedicated faculty that will provide mentoring, academic support and guidance in undergraduate research opportunities.

“A key to our program is that we will have trained discipline faculty and near peer mentors from each of the five SNS majors who will work with the Bobcat STEM Scholars to help them connect to research opportunities, recommend campus seminars and events, suggest academic coursework and advise them on graduate school applications,” said Kranzfelder. “I think that this type of mentoring will help the scholars be academically successful while at UC Merced and help set them up for their next educational and/or career journeys.”

UC Merced is committed to the overall mission of excellence in teaching, research and public service and to carry out this mission, students eligible for this scholarship must:

  • Be admitted to UC Merced and intend to register
  • Be Pell-eligible (limited to students with financial needs who have not earned their first bachelor's degree)
  • Have a high school GPA of 3.5 or higher
  • Intend a major in the School of Natural Sciences (applied mathematics, biology, chemistry, environmental science or physics)

The review panel will also focus on building a diverse cohort with representation from across the SNS majors and with demographic diversity representative of the campus population.

“Unfortunately, our nation has failed to train and mentor a STEM workforce that reflects the talent and demographic realities of our country. With the Bobcat STEM Scholars Program, we have an opportunity to diversify our nation’s STEM workforce by providing more opportunities for UC Merced students to engage in high-quality STEM learning experiences and supporting them through degree completion and beyond,” said Kranzfelder.

Among those who made this new program possible were Professor Brian Utter, teaching professors Michelle Leslie, Yue Lei and Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Education and Teaching Professor Sarah Frey

The funding will support the first cohort of students starting in fall 2022.