Supporting Graduate STEM Education

Policymakers, educators and executives have long warned that a looming crisis in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields could cause the United States to lose its competitive edge in the global economy.

To address this challenge, Montclair State researchers are educating and training a new generation of STEM scholars, with the help of a five-year grant from the National Science Foundation’s Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Program.

During the past year, Chemistry and Biochemistry Professor and Principal Investigator (PI) Nina Goodey has worked with co-PIs and departmental colleagues Marc Kasner and John Siekierka, as well as Computer Science Professor Katherine Herbert and Biology Professor Jennifer Krumins to lay the foundation for the “Opening Pathways, Engaging and Networking in Chemistry in Northern New Jersey” program, also known as OPEN-NJ.

“We have designed a new three-year curriculum that enables academically talented students with demonstrated financial need, who did not major in chemistry or biochemistry, to matriculate into chemistry and biochemistry master’s degree programs at Montclair State,” says Goodey.

Each participating OPEN-NJ student also receives a scholarship award of $10,000 per year. Some 51 scholarships totaling $510,000 will be disbursed over the next five years.

CSAM graduate students in lab.

The scholarship aid will reduce the challenges — family obligations, the high cost of living and the need to work — that often discourage students from pursuing a graduate degree.

“Our undergraduate population is extremely diverse and the OPEN-NJ program is likely to increase enrollment of minority students in our graduate programs,” says Goodey.

OPEN-NJ students also receive free access to tutoring, mentoring, academic advising and career development activities.