Caldwell University Awarded Grants to Support Science and Math Majors

Caldwell University Awarded Grants to Support Science and Math Majors


Caldwell University was awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) Division of Undergraduate Education (DUE) Scholarship in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (S-STEM) Program grant to support the retention and graduation of 18 high-achieving, low-income majors in biology, chemistry or mathematics. The five-year federal grant of $650,000 will help to develop the project, titled “Increasing Enrollment, Retention, Graduation, and Job Placement by Supporting the Connections of Commuter STEM Undergraduates to Faculty, Peers, and Industry,” and will enhance student interactions with STEM faculty.

Dr. Darryl Aucoin, assistant professor in the School of Natural Sciences, leads the project team of professors including Drs Agnes Berki and Marjorie Squires, of the School of Natural Sciences, Dr. Patricia Garruto, professor of mathematics, and Dr. Marisa Castronova’18, lecturer and researcher.

The project team will study how well new interventions help commuter students to develop meaningful relationships with resident students and with faculty. Team members anticipate that the project will generate new knowledge about the impact of supplemental instruction on commuter students’ science identity, retention, degree attainment and career choices. Findings can help other colleges nationwide to better support the success of STEM commuting students.


The university will receive a five-year $1.2M NSF DUE Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program grant for 21 undergraduate students beginning this fall to prepare effective secondary STEM educators (grades 7-12) in local high-need districts.The project, “Building STEM Teachers’ Capacity to Create Authentic and Original Classroom Experiences,”willoffer future STEM teachers with advanced pedagogy and content training with an educational emphasis on engaging in and teaching STEM. This intervention couples hands-on STEM teaching via early field experiences with an innovative and comprehensive educational approach called the CREATE to EDUCATE initiative. This initiative will partner scholars with CU faculty to develop multimedia STEM instructional materials to be used during their field placements and in-service teaching.


Dr. William Velhagen, associate dean of the School of Natural Sciences and a biology professor, says they are excited to have been awarded this grant, which will help students become effective science and math teachers at high-needs school districts.  “We hope that having great teachers will lead to more students choosing careers in STEM.” He will head an interdisciplinary faculty team that includes Dr. Edith Ries, professor of education; Dr. Patrick Sime, professor of mathematics, and Dr. Marisa Castronova ’18, educational researcher. The team will collaborate with two local educational agencies in Passaic and Clifton and will recruit local transfer students from Passaic County Community College and Union County College.


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